Actor Christine Mackie is used to walking the cobbles of Coronation Street or wearing period costume in Downton Abbey. However taking on the part of a playwright for real was a new departure. The result is Best Girl, which draws from her experience of losing her soldier father to suicide when she was a child. It was written for and now stars her daughter, actor Lois Mackie.
“My dad’s experience in WWII lead to PTSD (Post Traumatic Disorder) which just wasn’t talked about then,” explains Christine. “When I lost dad, I lost the belief in myself as being someone you’d stick around for, someone worthwhile. As a family we were left to get over his suicide with very little help. I’m really interested in how the children of veterans suffer from the trauma of conflict. That’s the starting point of my positive and hopeful play.”
The one-woman show follows twenty-something Annie in modern-day Manchester. Smart and funny, she still struggles with life until she finds love and the strength to seek out the help she needs through the NHS. A percentage of the play’s profits will go to FirstLight Trust, a charity helping those who served in the armed forces and emergency services and are struggling with civilian life.
“Best Girl absolutely underpins the work we want to do around secondary trauma, families and children,” says FirstLight Trust founder Dorinda Wolfe Murray. “The high suicide rate in veterans is unacceptable, with its impact shuddering through subsequent generations. We are so grateful to the Mackies for bringing this issue into the spotlight in such a moving and ultimately uplifting way.”
Oliver Award-nominated playwright April de Angelis calls Best Girl “a sharply written, moving, wise and witty play”. It will be performed at the Hope Aria Theatre at the Greater Manchester Fringe in July, before moving to the Edinburgh Fringe in August. The play was a finalist 2019 LET AWARDS and the team are now crowd funding for their Edinburgh run.
Lois Mackie adds: “Taking part in my first one-woman show is emotional and challenging in itself. The subject matter and family connection mean Best Girl is something really unique. I can’t wait to share it with everyone.”