by Meredith Oakes.
Courtyard Theatre Bowling Green Walk 40 Pitfield Street N1 6EU To 16 June 2012.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 4771000.
Review: William Russell 26 May.
A first rate revival.
Originally performed at the Royal Court theatre in 1997 this is as good a revival as one could imagine. Director Drew Baker has done a fine job and if there are better performances on the Fringe this year, they will be very good indeed.
The action takes place in an isolated farmhouse on the Falklands, being used as a billet by four British soldiers with an Argentine prisoner. Only the farmer’s wife, like so many islanders, a British fugitive from the rat race of Thatcher’s England, is at home. The men, an idealistic sergeant, despised by his men, a tough, bloody-minded lance corporal, a very young squaddie and an older, tougher one squabble over what to do with their prisoner, and complain about conditions up the hill outside where battle is raging.
The prisoner turns out to be an American mercenary, an embarrassment to all concerned alive, just another casualty of war dead. But will they kill him? It is one thing to kill in battle, another to do so in cold blood under orders which may well never actually have been given.
Meredith Oakes has come up with a fascinating drama and, for the most part, catches the way squaddies would speak and behave, although – and she has a serious political issue to debate – sometimes the language gets slightly out of kilter.
The woman also is divided in her loyalties. The men spout jingoistic jargon. She settles for sex, and also has some problems with the prisoner when he comes to reveal why he is fighting for the Argentine side.
It is tough, it is shocking; the violence, when it comes, is sobering to say the least and Oakes raises interesting questions about men in war and the war itself – not least that behind all the jargon about protecting Britons from the wicked, savage Argies and being soldiers of the Queen is the fact that the islands are our toehold on the Antarctic and thus our having our share in exploiting its hidden wealth in terms of fish, oil and precious metals.
Private Mick Pike: Charlie Clements.
Lance-Corporal Adam Ziller: Stanley Eldridge.
Larry: Mawgan Giles.
Sergeant Toby Spiers: Ian Sharp.
Sandra: Georgina Sutton.
Private Lee Finch: Alexander Wolfe.
Director: Drew Baker.
Dialect coach: Paula Jack.
Fight coach: Zoe Swenson-Graham.