IT IS not often the Wharf can boast a world premiere. This one is not for the faint hearted or those of delicate sensibilities about man’s inhumanity to man.

Pewsey Vale based writer and actor Annie L Cooper has drawn on her experiences as a therapist in post-war Bosnia for part of her story. It makes for harrowing but riveting drama.

At the centre of the story are two teenage girls, Laylee, a refugee undergoing therapy after unspeakable horrors in a country torn apart by war. The other is Thea, the adopted daughter of the therapist, who while she outwardly has a comfortable life, feels isolated, misunderstood and lacking her true identity, which she hopes a reunion with her birth mother will resolve.

The Wharf, and the play’s director Lewis Cowen, have found two extraordinary young talents in Sophie Wilson, playing the tormented Laylee and Bea Watts as Thea. Both are mature beyond their years, dealing utterly convincingly with complex and traumatic issues, surely outside their experience.

The adults struggling to deal with the angst fall-out are Laura Bartle as Zara, the therapist, Stuart Mayling as her husband Sam, Oli Beech as Jodie, a soldier turned psychotherapist and Claire Abraham as Lucy, Thea’s birth mother. Each makes a strong contribution to the evolving mesh of relationships.

It is a carefully constructed play which pulls you into its heart, stretches your emotions and releases you, not with a happy-ever-after resolution but a recognition of reality.