The harsh re­al­i­ties of war

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Stage -

DE­SCRIBED as ‘One man’s jour­ney from hell,’ the story of Martin O’Meara VC comes to the stage next month in Un­der Any Old Gum Tree.

The award-win­ning pro­duc­tion in­cludes songs and mu­sic writ­ten and ded­i­cated to O’Meara, ex­plor­ing his life as he came from Ire­land to WA and then from No Man’s Land to insanity dur­ing World War I.

Writer and direc­tor Noel O’Neill said it was a great tragedy for O’Meara, who fought in France and re­ceived the Vic­to­ria Cross, to spend 12 years in asy­lums and men­tal hos­pi­tals.

“It was due to post-trau­matic stress, which wasn’t di­ag­nosed un­til the Viet­nam War,” he said.

“O’Meara was badly treated be­cause they re­ally were not equipped in those days to treat the men­tal hor­rors of war.

“The at­ti­tude was, ‘If a lit­tle med­i­ca­tion helps, then a lit­tle more must help even more’ – but it caused quite a lot of dam­age.”

Un­der Any Old Gum Tree is at Shen­ton Park Com­mu­nity Cen­tre, May 1 to 3.

Tick­ets at www.try­book­

Kieran Gar­vey (right) as Martin O’Meara VC and Rex Gray as his asy­lum at­ten­dant.

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