In any conflict there are always forgotten victims. While military and civilian deaths and injuries make the news, the longer lasting effects on survivors often remain overlooked.
Silent Shout’s first production, A Dream From A Bombshell, takes a look at the impact of the Vietnam War on its civilian population. The War has of course already provided rich inspiration for both film, literature and theatre and indeed the starting inspiration for this production was Le Ly Hayslip’s haunting biographical account of childhood during the war When Heaven and Earth Changed Places.
While A Dream From A Bombshell is still a work in progress and this showing as part of the Pulse Fringe Festival its first public outing, it is already a remarkably formed piece.
For young Hung Lan the horrors of the war have been hidden deep in her subconscious. Keen to escape the carnage and violence she sees hope in the form of British journalist Robert. The culture divide is wide – Lan’s knowledge of Britain mainly formed from snippets of information and bolstered by dream encounters with a manifestation of Queen Victoria.
It is easy so see why Lan’s mind wanders; along with her Mother and sister she toils in the hot, backbreaking paddy fields, a rural upbringing that ill prepares her for the bustling streets of Saigon in later life. The repetitive and back breaking world of the rice fields contrasted with the crowded urban Saigon urban effectively explored in movement.
We get snatches of memory from Lan’s life, the shocking description of how as a young child she witness her father being shot at 2am – prompting her to ask herself ‘what is a child meant to do in war – run out and rescue him?’ It’s a poetic description that barely conveys the true horror of war but it is performed with poignancy and conviction.
As the play climaxes we begin to understand the reasons for Lan’s flashbacks and the true horror of her situation becomes apparent as her dreams of a new life in Britain fade.
Strong performance from the entire company, Anna Nguyen, Luke Mcgrath, Pippa Wildwood, Sheri Sadd and Paula Siu, belie the early stage of development of the piece.
Some of the dialogue still needs some work, with the British and American characters in particular sounding more like sound bites than well-rounded characters.
Overall, though, there is great potential here and A Dream From A Bombshell is a show to watch with interest in its future development.