Theatre can be a great escape from a somewhat gloomy reality; conversely, it is an incredibly effective medium for debating and dramatising important issues. The Finborough is on a roll when it comes to the latter, and with its latest offering, a smart, thought-provoking two-hander, it can add military presence in Afghanistan and the nature of modern heroism to the list.
What makes Armstrong’s War fascinating viewing is that it tackles this hot-button topic from a rather different perspective. While literary and dramatic interpretations of British and American soldiers’ experiences have flooded the marketplace in the past few years, we’re less familiar with the plight of the Canadian armed forces, despite the fact that Canada has deployed thousands of troops since 9/11 in its most intense combat commitment since the Korean War.
Colleen Murphy’s intelligent 90-minute play, set in 2007, asks searching questions about the role of NATO forces in Afghanistan, the legacy of intervention and the emotional toll such action takes on young soldiers like Michael Armstrong, who is grappling with rehabilitation in a hospital in Ottawa and struggling to balance terrible personal loss against uncertain geopolitical gains.