Preview: Casualties at the Park Theatre, Finsbury Park
- Credit: Archant
Casualties is one of the first plays dealing with British armed military involvement in Afghanistan not to gloss over the issue, according to one of the lead actors in the production.
Former EastEnders actor Alex Fearns, 44, plays Gary, a British soldier fighting there in the Park Theatre’s latest production.
The premiere of Ross Ericson’s play explores what it’s like to be on the ground through Gary’s relationship with his wife and friend Mike, who is suffering from post-traumatic stress.
He said: “It’s told from the soldier’s point of view and what they go through. It’s very now.
“Nobody has written a play dealing with issues in Afghanistan, or doing it without trying to fudge it. Every soldier you speak to knows the whole thing is futile.
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“It’s controversial and it’s so relevant considering what has happened in Woolwich.
“It’s holding up a mirror to British society – this is what’s going on.
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“It covers our reaction – or non-reaction – to the fact we are in the middle of a war.
“We get locked into a bubble and forget what we’re involved in as a country.
“It also deals with the obsession with celebrity and reality shows from a soldier’s perspective on civilian life.”
But the Scottish-born actor, who lives in London, added that it was “not full with doom and gloom.”
He said: “I would say it’s about how war affects relationships. It’s about humanity among the carnage and madness. It’s about the human qualities coming out – humanity, compassion and brotherhood.
“It also features black humour – military humour.”
Fearns, best known for his role as villain Trevor Morgan in EastEnders, admitted that it “differed terribly” from anything he had ever done.
A career which has spanned television, film and the stage started in South Africa, where he moved at the 11 and studied drama at university in Cape Town.
He performed in many British productions in South Africa, particularly for the BBC.
He lived there during the dying days of apartheid and said: “There’s something to be said for seeing another perspective. I’m very grateful for living there. It was rough in the 80s but very enlightening.
“You knew the situation was not right, but it was not reported.
“We would have telephone calls with the family back in Scotland and they would ask us about events they had seen on the news but we didn’t know about. It was totalitarian and police state.”
He said that the choice of plum roles had increased with age. “As you get older, parts change,” he said. “I would say they are meatier parts. They are more layered, you are dealing with more complicated issues.”
After Casualties, he will go on to perform in True West at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow in August. In September he will be starring in a three-part ITV series called The Black Widower about killer Malcolm Webster who was convicted of murdering his first wife and attempting to kill his second in order to get an insurance payout.
n Casualties will run from June 18 to July 14 at Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, N4. Tickets cost £22, and can be booked on 020 7870 6876.