Writers & Directors: Luke Tudball and Heather Bagnall
Reviewer: Tom Ralphs
The very large stage of the Emerald Studio, at Greenside’s Nicholson Square venue, makes the minimal set of Falkland – The War the World Forgot look incredibly small, making the stage seem empty. This may be exactly what Tasty Monster Productions wanted as it illustrates how insignificant the Falkland Islands can appear and how few people live on it. It hardly seems worth fighting for, and yet in 1982 it was the island that England and Argentina fought a war over.
The play focuses on the friendship between Gideon, a Falkland Islands Sheep farmer, and Private Patrick Fitzgerald (Fitz), a soldier from Northern Ireland. As the two men get closer they learn more about the island and each other, as the question of why anyone would go to war for a country that is home to 1,800 people and some penguins, hangs in the air unanswered.
Luke Tudball plays Gideon, while Heather Bagnall doubles as Fitz and Gideon’s wife Helen. Helen and Fitz never meet, not merely because that would be impossible given the casting. The war prevents Fitz ever taking up Gideon’s invite to come to his home. Helen can only offer her commentary on the war, adding an extra layer to Gideon’s bewilderment at why it’s happening, noting that it’s boys against boys, a grand show for the folks at home in the two countries the soldiers are from.
The play works as a reminder that, in some ways, this 1980s war had more in common with WW1 than any modern warfare, as soldiers suffered from trench foot and frostbite waiting for battle in remote fields far from home. The pre-social media age is also notable in how the initial news of the war was slow to break and how no-one really knew where the island was until after it was invaded and they looked on a map to find it wasn’t off the coast of Scotland.
What the play doesn’t do is add anything new or say anything different about this or other wars. There’s no reflection on life after the war or how it altered the lives of the injured soldiers and the families who lost loved ones. As such it doesn’t feel like it is getting below the surface of the subject it is dealing with and isn’t really exploring either causes or consequences.
Runs until 25 August 2018 | Image: Contributed