08:40am Saturday 18 January 2020

‘Wounded’: an emotional new play exploring war and medicine

As British military casualties continue to return from the war in Afghanistan, ‘Wounded’ tells the stories of two soldiers, fighting a century apart, but both coping with the aftermath of war. Informed by research into post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as military medical practice in modern conflicts and World War I, this timely and heartwarming play takes place at the Territorial Army Field Hospital in Kings Heath, Birmingham, from 30 October to 10 November.

Set in 1917 and 2012, ‘Wounded’ follows the stories of Combat Medical Technician Kate Mulligan and Private Alfred Seddon. Nearly 100 years after the Great War, Kate Mulligan is treated in the same military hospital that nursed injured soldiers during the World War I.

Wracked with guilt that she caused her own injuries and the life-threatening injuries of another soldier who tried to save her, Kate begins to experience strange goings-on. Perhaps it’s the shock, or maybe Kate really can see and hear Private Alfred Seddon. The two soldiers remember and revisit their experiences, allowing them to explore their trauma and help each other recover.

During her research for ‘Wounded’, writer Jenny Stephens became increasingly aware of the parallels between the plight of injured soldiers a century apart. “Living in Birmingham we’re painfully aware of the trauma of war, particularly with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s role in the rehabilitation of soldiers who have been terribly injured in war zones, including Iraq and Afghanistan,” she says.

Stephens also began to understand the very personal stories behind the medical records: “I became really interested in how individuals might cope with the trauma of combat in what are, supposedly, very different conflicts. But I soon realised that today’s post-traumatic stress disorder is basically ‘shellshock’ by a different name.

“Thankfully, sufferers are no longer shot as cowards, as they often were during the First World War. But the effects can still be devastating.”

But ‘Wounded’ isn’t intended to be an issue-based play, insists Stephens: “I hope it’s an intriguing – and heartwarming – story that brings together the lives of two soldiers a century apart. I suppose it’s really a ghost story and a meditation about feelings of guilt that people carry with them.”

The story is also informed by military medical practice, both now and during the World War I.

“As I researched, I realised that there is a terrible paradox between war and medicine, which the play explores – warfare is obviously a dreadful scourge, but it is also very often a time of great medical discovery and innovation.”

The cast for ‘Wounded’ includes Daniel Anderson (Captain Jones), Ben Callon (Alfie Seddon), John Flitcroft (Jacko/Dr Carter), Emma Rollason (Kate Mulligan) and Maisie Turpie (Nurse Gertie Robinson/Rosie Seddon).

It is directed by Steve Ball, Associate Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre with design by Paul Burgess, lighting design by Simon Bond, sound design by Matt Gray, projection and video design by Adam Guy and music composed by Matthew Williams.

Following its premiere in Birmingham, ‘Wounded’ will play for students at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh. Watch the trailer.

The REP @ TA Centre
Dawberry Fields Road
Kings Heath
Birmingham B14 6NY

Tuesday 30 October-Saturday 10 November
Performance times: 13.30 on 30, 31 October and 3, 5-8, 10 November; 19.00 on 1, 3, 7, 8, 10 November.
Tickets: £12, concessions available
After Dark discussion: Thursday 8 November, 19.00
BSL-interpreted performance: Thursday 8 November, 19.00, with Mary Connell.
Book online
Box office: +44 (0)121 236 4455

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