Actor Chris Leask plays one third of a love triangle in Love Your Soldiers but says that the relationships that fascinated him are the ones between serving troops.
Chris appears as Ken in the play, which is making its world premiere at the Crucible Studio.
The action is split between Afghanistan, where Ken and Roly (Jordan Bright) are best mates serving together, and their London home. Ken is in love with Gemma (Charlotte Beaumont from crime drama Broadchurch) but she is torn between him and Roly. The play also traces Ken’s friendship with an Afghanistan boy, which leads to tragedy.
Chris said: “Ken and Gemma have been together about two years. He’s going on his last tour and wants to leave and settle down with Gemma. He introduces her to his best friend, Roly, and they hit it off a little bit too well. They form their own relationship.
“Throughout the play you see them try their hardest to keep their strong bond.
“Something happens in the play that affects all the characters. Suddenly we see them fight to survive. It really explores all the tragedies that happen in the area.” He adds: “Gemma’s character is a big liar. That’s very hard for a soldier. Over in Afghanistan there can’t be any fibs. Your life and theirs depends upon it.”
Chris said that the cast have done a lot of research about army lives. He said: “We were lucky enough to have someone come in and through other projects I’ve met soldiers. It’s fascinating to hear the way they speak. The loyalty they have about their comrades is incredible.
“It made me question my friendships. Why am I not close and why do I not love my friends as much as that?”
He added: “The name of the play is the last thing you’re told when you finish training. The most important thing to love other soldiers and put other comrades in front of you. The bloke who came in to talk to us about the Army saved someone’s life. We asked did he owe you anything? He just told him: ‘Buy me a pint’.
“That kind of love for your comrades, you don’t understand it unless you’re out there.”
Chris, who is making his stage debut a year out of LAMDA drama school, is enthusiastic about working with the director, One Foot in the Grave and Merlin star Richard Wilson.
He said: “I’ve been incredibly lucky for my first play to be with Richard. I’ve learned so much from him already.”
Love Your Soldiers is at the Crucible Studio until Saturday. Box office: call 0114 249 6000 or go to www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk