Powerful take on true-life tragedy
This article is from 2008.
Thirteen years after Cheryl James died at Deepcut barracks, the young army private's parents continue to campaign for a public enquiry. No longer solely concerned as to whether she committed suicide, as the army originally claimed, Des and Doreen James now seek more fundamental answers about the notorious barracks, where three other young soldiers died between 1995 and 2002.
Beaming a searchlight into the fog of a suspected cover-up, Philip Ralph's script stays soberly critical, drawing its chilling, gut-punching strength from real-life legal documents and verbatim quotes. Like the James', who Ralph interviewed over three years, the playwright doesn't want to embellish facts or provoke outrage. This genuinely compelling, nerve-hitting production from gutsy Welsh company Sherman Cymru gradually transforms the James' cosy, living room into a blur of ballistics diagrams and court officials. Passionate, shrewd journalist Brian Cathcart smells corruption, while wild card forensics expert Frank Swann uncovers compelling new evidence to challenge the official line on how Cheryl died.
Ciaran McIntyre (Des) and Rhian Morgan (Doreen) lead a strong ensemble cast in this shattering, thought-provoking drama, as the ordinary couple sucked into an MoD war game. This account of the James' 'abject despair' and quest for justice deserves to provoke a much wider-reaching political debate on the army's duty of care towards soldiers.
Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, until 24 Aug (not 11, 18), times vary, £14–£16 (£10–£11).