Pink Mist is full of raw emotion, yet is an inherently real tale about the effects of war on people; as individuals, and as people in relationships and society.
The play, written by Owen Sheers, follows the story of three men tied together from childhood, as they embark as life as soldiers and are sent on tour to Afganistan. “Who wants to play war!”
They are heartbreakingly young and blindly accepting of what is to come as, one by one, they conscript. As an audience member you know it can’t end well because before the action starts there is a wheel chair on stage. In this context you know what it represents.
Each of the three stories is led by the female in their lives, Hads and his mum, Taffs’ wife Lisa and their child, and Arthur and his girlfriend Gwen. The present day of this play is fireworks night, as it wreaks havoc on the mental state of Hads and Taffs who, with every passing firework, hear real rockets, grenades and gunfire.
There is a standout performance from Phil Dunster who plays Arthur, he is the main narrator, and he guides the play to its poignant conclusion.
There is a lot of beautifully horrific imagery, men flying through the air to their death; a bird of prey, eggs in a nest – stolen then crushed; life and then death.
This play is a contradiction, at times it is quiet, delicate, repeating poetically formed lines, echoed by movement. And then a bomb drops. Literally. And everyone is sent flying and a sound scape of war emerges from nowhere.
Sheers has a wonderful lightness to his prose, subtly slipping in some rhyming couplets, at other times producing dialogue and character from nowhere in a matter of minutes. The section with a spoken dictionary of Afghan phrases was particularly effective – the foreign dialect being fired out, harsh with consonants, sounded like rapid gunfire.
At all times this piece was performed with absolute commitment and integrity. I have huge admiration for the actors who go out each night a bring this piece to life, this alone must be hard. Not forgetting the horrors of actually experiencing active combat as the men in this play did.
I could say a lot more about this piece, but I shall end here by urging you to see Pink Mist at Bristol Old Vic before it ends on Saturday 11th July. And I hope that BBC Radio 4 are aware of its success and are compelled to put on the radio play again.