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Sand literally runs through everything in Scorched, a play by Lisle Turner based on conversations with his grandfather. Evoking an elderly man’s traumatic memories of desert warfare, the sand covers the floor, it falls from the ceiling, it fills everything. And, like sand shifting in the wind, the play presents fragmentary episodes drawn from the former soldier’s past, tangled up and confused through the distortion of dementia.
Sat in a chair in a nursing home, Jack takes us inside his confused mind with moments from the siege of Tobruk in 1941 as well as his colourful life as a boxer, horse wrangler and river warden. With its expressionistic structure, it lacks a tight narrative drive and sometimes slows but it is held together through a moving, masterful performance by Robin Berry as the veteran, Jack. What also sets the show apart is its staging, with inventive use of props and visual effects such as a tattoo that comes to life and a town created out of shortbread and, again, sand. Directed by Claire Coaché, Scorched is a powerful play that captures the horror of war and the disorientation of dementia.