Fifteen wounded, injured and sick veterans today performed scenes from Unspoken, a play about the challenges faced by ex-service personnel like themselves, at the Palace of Westminster.
Their appearance comes ahead of a full performance at Sadler’s Wells on 28 October, which will be the final stop on a hugely successful tour that began at the Edinburgh Festival in August where it earned ★★★★ and ★★★★★ reviews.
The presentation was at theSpeaker’s House, in front of MPs and specially invited guests, took place by kind permission of The Speaker, John Bercow MP.
Unspokenwas created using the real-life stories of 100 modern day veterans – a number chosen to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War.
The cast, from across the UK, are all members of the Bravo 22 Company, a recovery through the arts programme made possible by The Royal British Legion and The Drive Project.
The project is supported by Ray Winstone, The Drive Project and Bravo 22 Company’s ambassador.
Winstone said: “This is a play, and a cast, with something important to say. It’s not sentimental, it’s not sugar coated, and it’s very real.
“It’s a superb piece of drama that anyone can appreciate as it’s more generally about life’s struggles and is full of humour and humanity.”
The play is set in a modern day club where a disparate regiment of soldiers, sailors and airmen have gathered to chat, drink and watch live entertainment.
Moving and often funny,Unspoken explores the aftermath of trauma and injury, and is dedicated to The Royal British Legion’s “Thank You” movement.
In the centenary year of the end of the First World War, this movement is about thanking the generation who lived through the conflict. This includes the countless men, women and children who played their part on the home front. Its themes are reflected in Unspoken.
The cast of Unspokenhave all faced tough realities.
Wheelchair user Ken Bellringer plays a “sit-down stand-up comedian”. Ken was given only the slimmest chances of survival after his attempt to save a comrade from a Taliban bomb resulted in catastrophic injuries including the loss of both legs and his genitals.
Alongside him on stage are the likes of Debbie Evans who developed PTSD after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Steve Shaw who was badly injured in Afghanistan, ex Royal Marine Tip Cullen who has moved into acting – and has appeared in Kingsman 2and Ready Player One. There is also former RAF man Luke Delahunty who is paralysed from the chest down – but has proved unstoppable, twice competing in the Invictus Games.
After Edinburgh, the show performed to sell-out audiences in Liverpool and Birmingham. Ed Fringe Review described Unspokenas “a stunning piece of theatre based on the real experiences of the cast” while the Express and Star said: “we really are in the presence of heroes”.
Delahunty said: “We have been overwhelmed by the way that the play has caught people’s imaginations wherever we have been. And to end the tour at Westminster and Sadler’s Wells is a tremendous honour.
“We hope that Unspoken will help create understanding of the challenges faced by wounded, injured and sick veterans.
“We also hope it will encourage people to think and talk about the experiences of those who went through World War I and the many conflicts that have taken place since then.”
Unspokenwas written by Gary Kitching, directed by Phil Hoffmann and is presented with the support of Newcastle Theatre Royal.
It has been championed by Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle on Tyne Central, who said the play is: “deeply moving and an important vehicle to provide empathy and understanding among society.”
As well as presenting excerpts from the play, the cast will talk about their lives and about Bravo 22 Company. Information will also be shared about the Thank You campaign.
Bravo 22 Company’s first production The Two Worlds of Charlie F, performed to sell out audiences at the Fringe in 2012, touring Canada and the UK and winning an Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. Unspokenaims to build on this success.
- Free-to-use photographs will be sent to picture desks and made available on request.
– Ends –
Picture by Mark Allan
- Sadler’s Wells – Lillian Baylis Studio, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R
- Dates: 28 October
- Time: 19:00
- Tickets £15, and £10 concessions
- Suitability: 14+
- Guidance: sensitive content, traumatic themes and strong language
- Box office: 020 7863 8000
- For more information see the website at unspokenplay.com
- You can see a trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0CO84xtPEs
- To find out about Bravo 22 Company see https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-support/recovery/bravo-22-company-recovery-and-wellbeing-through-the-arts/
- Unspoken is being presented in conjunction with The Royal British Legion as part of its Thank You movement
- See https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/thankyou
For media information contact Matthew Shelley at Matthew@ScottishFestivalsPR.Orgor 07786704299 or Fran Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org 07786 437249.