• Soldier and afghan child together
  • Soldier holds a rag doll
  • Soldiers sitting in a Chinook helicopter
A Brave Face

About the show

Dear mum, things are a bit tough right now. But don’t worry – I’m ok. I’ll tell you about it when I get back.”

Afghanistan: 2009. Under bright blue skies, a small girl stands and watches the soldier. She smiles, just like his sister…
Ryan is there to see the world, learn a trade, get a life. Training is complete, combat is a buzz; he’s part of a team, and knows his job. But on one particular hot and desperate tour of duty, Ryan sees things he can’t talk about, to anyone. And then, when he returns home, the trouble really begins.

Created from two years of research with ex and serving soldiers, families and health professionals, A Brave Face explores Post-Traumatic Stress, an unseen and often unrecognised injury of war, and the impact it can have on even the closest of families. With compassion and fearlessness, Vamos brings its trademark, wordless, full mask style to a story that needs to be told.

A Brave Face is suitable for audiences aged 12 years and upwards, and is accessible to hearing and d/Deaf audiences alike.

Co-commissioners: London International Mime Festival
Co-producers: Mercury Theatre, Colchester
Production sponsors: Arts Council England (Grants for the Arts), Worcestershire County Council, The Elmley Foundation, Worcestershire Arts Partnership.


James Greaves - Ryan
Joanna Holden - Katie (Ryan’s sister), Khatera, Company Sergeant Major
Sean Kempton - Jimmy
Angela Laverick - Jane (Ryan’s Mum), Alex (Troop Sergeant)
Rayo Patel - Ravi

All other parts played by members of the cast


Writer/Director: Rachael Savage
Composer/Sound Editor: Janie Armour
Advisors: Ray Anderton, Rhys Jenkins-Hayhow, Mark Lucas, Matthew Green, Diane Palmer, The Ripple Pond
Set/Costume Designer: Carl Davies
Mask Maker: Russell Dean
Associate Director: Alan Riley
Lighting Designer: Matt Clutterham
Choreographer: Rachael Alexander
Projection Designer: Mark Parry
Script Consultant: Janie Armour
Technician: Laura Sprake
Stage Manager (rehearsals): Dan Hill
Print Design: alienpen
Set Builders: The Mercury Theatre, Colchester
Costume Supervisor/maker: Hannah Marshall
Wig Dresser: Alison Barlow
Photography: Graeme Braidwood, Kate Holt
Student Apprentices: Natalie Hind, Charlotte Durber


RUNNING TIME: c. 75 mins (no interval)

FUNDERS: Arts Council England, Worcestershire County Council, The Elmley Foundation

CO-PRODUCERS: Mercury Theatre Colchester

CO-COMMISSIONERS: London International Mime Festival

SUITABILITY: Over 12 years



This production pulls punch after punch after punch. It’s essential theatre … and it makes a difference. It’s not to be missed, under any circumstances.
Read the full review here.

BBC Radio Shropshire,


A tender, powerful piece about Post Traumatic Stress...perfect in its sensitivity.,,not to be missed.
Read the full review here.

Paul T Davies, British Theatre.com


...a five-handed masterclass of this rare and beautiful art.
See the full review here.

Chris Eldon Lee, What's On Live


This is a powerful, imaginative and at times laugh out loud funny piece of theatre that demands an audience.
See the full review at here. 

Bryan Mason, Stage Talk Magazine


Its wordless story of a young man...resonates all the deeper for its lack of spoken dialogue.

Seven Days, What's On


A Brave Face is one of the most unique shows doing the rounds on the British theatre circuit at present, and you’d be a fool to miss out on the experience it offers.
Read the full review here.

Daryl Holden, The Reviews Hub


...this production was both moving and absorbing – an incredible piece of writing and performing that made the story and the emotion behind it completely accessible to the audience whatever their age and background.
Read the full review here.

Suzanne Hawkes, Felixstowespy.com


A Brave Face is a compelling story, beautifully told with Vamos’ signature mask style.
Read the full review here

Kate Lovell, Disability Arts Online


A Brave Face takes us inside an issue which both the military and society generally has struggled to fully comprehend. And in doing so, it also gives us a story touched with humour and humanity and a cast of memorable characters.
Read the full review here

Diane Parkes, Weekend Notes


There are only five actors: James Greaves, Joanna Holden, Sean Kemp, Angela Laverick and Rayo Patel, and they are all amazing...Go find A Brave Face if you can.
See the full review here

Janet Jepson, The Reviews Hub


...this has authenticity and the true stories of veterans, writ large. It vibrates with truth and makes you shudder with realisation because of it.
Read the full review

Donald Stewart, Fringe Review Scotland

Veterans' Events

A Brave Face was researched with the help of both serving and ex-soldiers, to create a powerful portrayal of the symptoms of PTS and the impact it has on the lives of returning soldiers and their families. As a result, the show contains scenes that some audiences may find distressing. All our performances welcome both civvies and Veterans. This includes our Veterans’ Events, which have slight adjustments made to the production to reduce the possibility of triggers and to provide additional support for those who could be affected by some of the scenes in the show.

What to expect at a Veterans’ Event performance:
•    Members of the cast will be available before the show to welcome audiences.
•    Trigger and Safety Sheets are available from our cast and the box office. They can also be downloaded here.
•    Lighting and sound have been designed to try to avoid triggers.
•    You can leave the performance at any time if you find any scenes too distressing.
•    The cast will finish the show by talking to the audience about help available through the NHS for PTS.
•    There will be a post-show discussion open to the audience to ask questions raised by the show.
•    Support will be available from either a military mental health charity or the NHS after the show in the foyer.
•    There will be leaflets available from the NHS on our merchandising table.
What you can do:
•    Request a Trigger and Safety Sheet from the box office or download it here
•    Where possible try to be seated near the aisles so you can easily leave during the performance should you wish to.
•    Network and share your experience of the show with fellow Veterans and families in the audience.
•    Tell us what you think on our feedback cards after the show.

Veterans’ Events are not exclusively for ex-military personnel and general performances are not exclusively for civvies. We welcome you to attend all performances.

Trigger and Safety Sheet

A Brave Face has been researched with the guidance of Veterans and serving soldiers, so we’re keen to ensure these audiences are supported at all our performances as much as possible. A Trigger and Safety Sheet (TSS) has been created to be available to anyone who attends our shows who may feel anxious about the content ahead of the performance.

The Trigger and Safety Sheet goes through each scene in detail, so please be aware that it contains plot spoilers from the show. You can request a TSS to be sent to you via email from the box office, or you can download a Trigger and Safety Sheet here

Relaxed Performances

Relaxed Performances are open to all, but specifically designed to welcome those who benefit, for whatever reason, from a more relaxed environment, such as people with sensory and communication disorders, a learning disability or autism spectrum condition. They’re a great way for family and friends to experience live performances together in an adapted environment. If you're coming to a Relaxed Performance, you can download the A Brave Face Visual Story in advance, which explains the story of A Brave Face using pictures and accessible text.

See our Relaxed Performances film


You can view a BSL version of this trailer here

Rehearsal trailer

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 one moment we were laughing the next we were moved to tears - and not a word spoken