Ever since I was 7-years-old, I knew I wanted to be a writer and made my own Mr Men books. Today, I am a freelance writer and have the privilege to review bands, theatre and comedy across Melbourne, not to mention interview some incredible artists.
PVT. Wars, written by James McLure, has been reprised and is currently playing at The Alex Theatre in St Kilda until the 4th August. Directed by Peter Kalos, the director and founder of Melbourne Actors Lab, the play is hauntingly beautiful as it peels back the layers of mental illness ex-soldiers experience when they return home.
Set in 1975, the play centres on the lives of three ex U.S Servicemen, now Vietnam veterans who find themselves in a mental hospital. Gately (Indigo Parer), Silvio (Josh Massarotti) and Natwick (Joseph Baldwin), make up the dynamic trio and torment, reminisce and poke fun at one another as they relive the war. It's common knowledge that soldiers who returned from Vietnam were forgotten heroes and seen as villains. Whereby their predecessors were welcomed back with marches and fanfare when they returned from World War II. It's a sad state of affairs when those who put themselves in the line of fire and were treated so poorly.
Parer, Masarotti and Baldwin were sensational as our forgotten heroes and it was apparent they went to great lengths to delve into the psyche of a Vietnam veteran. The trio left me wanting more and dominated each scene they were in. Their honesty and authenticity made them endearing and propelled the narrative forward. Playing a character so flawed by mental illness is a monumental task and I was left in awe by their sincere portrayal.
Gately, Silvio and Natwick made the stage come to life as they danced, teased each other and reflected. Throughout the play, Gately tries to repair a radio in the hopes that it will be the clincher he needs to 'get out'. The play mostly takes place in a recreation room where Gately, surrounded by Silvio and Natwick, works on the radio. It was apparent the men were still tied to their military days and the nuances of their former lives came through as they recited their allegiance and marched.
Although the set design was simplistic, it was perfection. I've seen many plays over the years but PVT Wars was a definite stand-out. Intoxicatingly hypnotic and compelling to the very end.