SHELL SHOCK – Summerhall – Army@Fringe – 5K

By Peter Maddern

The psychological impact of battle on veterans is often in the news and has been a problem for a century now, at least. Like concussion in sport it is a reality that the authorities often wish to ignore.

Shell Shock is about how one soldier, who has returned from Afghanistan, battles against his demons. It is based on the diaries of Neil Blower and this production has been written and is now performed by Tim Marriott.

Unlike many lobbyists for causes, this is not the cry for help for or from a self labeled victim. On the contrary, what is almost harrowing is the isolation of the character, Tommy Atkins, as he battles a condition he does not understand and which those around him – family, friends, partners – are also unable to appreciate or assist with; each prefers to look after number one and so Tommy’s isolation and desperation just increase when greater care and empathy are desperately in need.

Tim Marriott is simply superb in this role, assuming not only a distinct cultural persona but also the ticks and dispositions of this particular character’s condition. It profits richly not only from being the writer but also a deep acquired understanding of the Blower himself and his likes. There will be few better performances to observe anywhere this Fringe.

Not sure the venue is best prepared for this show – stage and seating too wide, the entrance hallway light left on – but that doesn’t warrant marking down an otherwise compelling performance and production.

Kryztoff Rating 5K


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