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Theatre review: Charlie Ward At Home

In theatre: Viewers at stage
version lie down (above) as


Charlie Ward At Home

Until July 22,★★★★✩

FORGET Jane Fonda: in World War I wounded soldiers were entertained by Charlie Chaplin films shown above their beds in makeshift hospital wards. It must have been a ghostly sight: rows of bed-bound soldiers and grainy black-and-white images flickering across the ceiling.

This short immersive piece invites audience members into the delirious mind of an injured soldier called Harry as he lies in such a bed.

First staged by Sound&Fury in 2014 to audiences of ten, it’s now free online, with viewers encouraged to use headphones and lie in the dark.

We watch as Chaplin, on a trip to the seaside, slips on a banana and gets tangled in a hat. Every so often the film goes black as Harry slides into childhood memories of his mum looking for crabs in a rock pool and singing him to sleep. The more frenzied Chaplin gets, the more he mirrors Harry’s internal trauma.

Gradually the soundscape takes on greater presence: a muffled German voice, a gunshot, a mortar explosion.

Chaplin’s films, with their blend of innocence and violence, have a sinister bathos at the best of times; here, filtered through the lens of a shattered mind, this one takes on an existential desolation. This show is only 18 minutes long but you might find yourself watching it several times.