"Powerful, mesmerising and deeply shocking"
by Jill Lawrie for remotegoat on 06/02/19

Frantic Assembly, renowned for their strong physical storytelling have once more joined forces with Theatre Royal Plymouth, who specialise in producing new works, for this contemporary play “The Unreturning”. Written by Anna Jordan and performed by a cast of 4 all of whom previously attended Ignition, Frantic Assembly’s free training programme for 16-20 year-old men. After 10 years the programme is being opened up to women for the first time in 2019.

This powerful drama swirls between 3 interlinking stories and time frames but all are dominated by the desire to go home, back to Scarborough from their war-torn experiences. George is returning from the trenches in 1918 severely shell-shocked, 2013 and Frankie is returning from his tour of duty in Afghanistan with the British Army potentially facing trial for an incident uploaded on the internet, while Nat who has the weakest storyline set in 2026, is a refugee attempting to return to Britain ravaged by civil war.

A constantly revolving shipping container, loud bangs and bright flashing lights add to the disorientation as these battle-fatigued and tormented characters shift locations.

A mesmerising, energetic and unsettling snapshot of the immensity these personal experiences of conflict have on the individual and the lifelong horrors that are endured. Joe Layton handles the emotive, violent character Frankie with great competence as he heads home to his memories and a media backlash. Jared Garfield gives an outstanding performance as demobbed George so tragically damaged by events. Initially playing the dutiful soldier but his traumas lead to tortuous and tormented nightmares.

Not for the fainthearted this is a powerful and shocking portrait of the disturbing effects brought on by conflict.

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