September 17 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
It’s a play that stars, and involves, soldiers injured in active service. The Two Worlds of Charlie F tells the story of the Regiment of the Wounded. Stacia Briggs spoke to its leading man, Cassidy Little, about his big future.
“This is the story of how a ballet-dancing general’s son became a stand-up comedian, took a bet, joined the Royal Marines, left a leg in Afghanistan and ended up on the West End…”
Lance Corporal Cassidy Little of 42 Commando Royal Marines has reported for interview duty at Norwich Theatre Royal where he will be performing later in the year in The Two Worlds of Charlie F, an astonishing piece of drama about the recovery process for injured soldiers.
Born to entertain, Cassidy breaks down his life story into a tantalising soundbite for me as if it’s a fairytale, albeit one with a dark nightmare at its core, not that you’d know it from the incredibly personable, joke-cracking, coffee-crazy Marine sitting next to me.
He points to his prosthetic leg, an impressive piece of engineering: “I used to have wicked bad Athlete’s Foot right here. The whole ‘leg-off’ thing has been a blessing, really…”
Cassidy is originally from Canada. His father was a brigadier general in the Canadian Airforce but he grew up keen to find work on the stage, appearing in his first performance aged eight and winning a place at an American ballet school aged 17.
At 22, he moved to London, intent on becoming a stand-up comedian. When he arrived, “I found out I wasn’t funny”.
“After being booed off stage at the Comedy Store, I realised that I might have to rethink my material. It was offensive stuff. The kind of stuff that’s only appropriate if you’re a stand-up comedian and probably not even then,” he laughed.
After making a ‘gentleman’s bet’ with his girlfriend of the time that he’d get fit, in 2005 Cassidy enrolled with the Royal Marine Commandos (“I never do things by halves”), dumped the girlfriend and went into 32 weeks of intensive, punishing training.
“I loved being a Royal Marine, but there’s nothing about marine training that you can love. It was hard-as-nails difficult, but it should be because you are training to be a green beret, one of the best soldiers in the world,” said the 32-year-old, who now lives with wife Laura in Market Deeping in the Fens.
“Four months after basic training my boots were in the dust and there was a machine gun in my hand in Afghanistan.”
After his first deployment, Cassidy returned to England where he trained as a commando medic. In 2011, he began a second Afghan tour and on May 28 was injured in a deadly IED explosion which left two of his friends dead, others injured and changed his life in an instant.
He lists his injuries with a practised air: “I lost my leg on the right side below the knee, nearly lost my left leg, I had a double-fractured pelvis, some brain damage and a partially detached retina. I have large bits of tissue missing from my body and nerve damage in my lower body.
“The medics did a really good job of putting me back together, but then the enemy had also done a pretty good job of taking me to pieces.”
The Two Worlds of Charlie F is at Norwich Theatre Royal from May 6 to 10. For more information and to book tickets, call 01603 630000 or click here.