Timed to coincide with the thirtieth anniversary of the Falklands War, PACM and Achilles Entertainment stage this drama, set on the islands during the height of the conflict. Sandra (Georgina Sutton) is ex-pat British, having given up the hustle and bustle of UK life for a sheep farm. The play is set in her farmhouse, which is also being used as temporary accommodation for some of the British soldiers. Events take an unforeseen course when a captured mercenary is discovered to originate from the United States yet fighting for the Argentineans. The production is beefed up with the enlistment of Charlie Clements to the cast, he of former Eastenders fame in the shape of Bradley Branning; but even with his inclusion, it failed to captivate.
Much of the content of the first act revolves around the sub-society the soldiers have created in Sandra’s home and in particular, the relationship between an ineffective Sergeant and his over-bearing, cocky Lance Corporal. This point is laboured and becomes weary, making it difficult to relate to either of them. Twenty year old Stanley Eldridge convincingly plays the antagonistic perma-tanned Lance Jack Adam Ziller though, but I just struggled to accept that the Sergeant would allow such relentless bullying from a lower rank in the thick of wartime. Ian Sharp’s Sergeant Toby Spiers is one of the dullest characters I’ve come across in a play for a long time, I’m unsure if this is a directorial decision or down to Sharp but the result is a desolation of charisma and therefore lack of empathy.
One redeeming feature is Alexander Wolfe as the somewhat dim-witted Private Lee Finch whose acting provides a ray of sunshine to an otherwise bleak prospect, I shall look out for him in the future. The other private, played by Charlie Clements, is scarcely seen during the first act and is unmemorable during the second, despite the writer Meredith Oakes including the familiar staples of sex and murder to invigorate the story.
Overall, a disappointment; the theme is very much of interest but the lack of a decent, credible storyline left me flagging too many times. If you choose to pay a visit, be aware that the production contains a lot of adult language.
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By Gareth Richardson @BargainTheatre
23rd May to 16th June 2012
Courtyard Theatre, London, N1.