Glory Dazed 5pm at Underbelly 2nd-16th August (not 14th)


 This high octane drama from Second Shot productions and written by Cat Jones- with authentic input from ex-servicemen serving prison sentences- pulls on many emotional strings and each one highly effectively. Not just focussing on Ray-an outstanding and commanding performance from SamuelEdward-Cook- experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq it also shows how war affects those left behind at home and their daily struggles with life that turn their home-life ,on their partner’s return,  to a battleground which is just as devastating on the protagonists’ psyches and lives as any wartime experiences.

The drama evolves in an after-hours confrontation in a pub when Ray seeks refuge after attacking someone in the street and, bloodied and on the run, needs somewhere to seek sanctuary. His ex-wife Carla and her new lover Simon work there but at this juncture Ray is not aware of their relationship. It is just one of many secrets and truths which are revealed during the confrontations which follow. Also present is Leanne who is a barmaid who not blessed with a high IQ is at first responsive to Ray’s demands and flirting. Carla Meanwhile is on an emotional tightrope unable to hide her still strong bond of emotion toward him but realising the relationship is highly destructive, volatile and has no future.

The discovery that his ex-wife is involved with Simon the publican is enough to send Ray over the edge of the emotional precipice he has been teetering on for years. Unable to put his  wartime experiences behind him he is a pressure cooker full of seething intent and explosive emotions only propelled towards psychosis by a vast consumption of alcohol.

The recriminations which follow are far more shocking than the simple matter of his domestic abuse towards Carla and show how war destroys not only the dead but also those who survive and have to try and incorporate and accept what they have both done and seen in the name of defending their country. The drama peeks and rises to crescendos whilst achieving great moments of pathos and real-life awkwardness. It also manages despite all the heavy issues on display not to neglect humour when the drama necessitates it.

The strength of this drama is down to excellent performances- Chloe Massey , Adam Foster and Katie West are also all excellent- but it is Cook’s performance as Ray which Glory Dazed hinges upon. The actors are working with excellent material however and Elle White’s direction is sparse but effective. An excellent thought provoking drama with a conscience and depth Glory Dazed is quite an intense journey but one worth taking.


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