★★★★ | Love Your Soldiers
In Helmand Province, two young soldiers have bonded like brothers in the midst of war, but when one of them is seriously injured, their relationship is tested even further when he is returned home and continues his affair with his best friend’s girlfriend.
Ken is a soldier and is a fun loving guy who takes his girlfriend for granted. When his best friend, Roly, covers Ken’s patrol, he steps on a landmine, and loses both of his legs. Roly is returned to a rehabilitation centre in England. But unbeknown to Ken, his girlfriend, Gemma, and Roly have been having an affair and she is torn between the two of them. When Gemma announces that she is pregnant, she remains ambiguous about the father of the child and matters come to a head when Ken returns home on leave to both spend time with the woman he loves and to confront his guilt for allowing Roly to take his place on the patrol which led to his injuries.
Love, betrayal, friendship, honesty and revenge are the themes of this touching, poignant and well produced and directed play. The first thing that strikes you as you enter the theatre is the set which envelopes the seating area and places the audience in the middle of the set itself. The production uses a number of interesting and well utilised video and audio effects, using giant screens and projectors to replicate the webcam exchanges of the central characters (which are acted out live on stage) and as background settings to the various scenes and locations. The use of smoke, lighting and loud exchanges of gunfire and explosions proved an assault on the senses, particularly in the battle scenes, invoking a genuine tension in the audience. There is very little to fault this play on in terms of its staging and direction and the director, Richard Wilson, has to be commended for such an excellent job.
The story is one which is well written and is tender and touching, exploring the relationships between the soldiers, those left “at home” and those around them on the front line. There is some discussion around homosexuality and homophobia, although this is not the central theme of the play, instead, it focusses more on the impact of the situation of the three central characters on each other and on those around them.
In a small cast, Chris Leask gave the standout performance as Ken and Jordan Bright as Roly performed well in his first professional role; with the rest of the cast giving competent support. But where the play comes into its on is in the story and the drawing in of the audience. The feeling you get when watching the play falls into two distinct categories. The scenes set in Afghanistan makes you feel, at times, like you are in the middle of an action film. The scenes set in England make you feel like you are in the middle of a high quality BBC drama. This was a thought provoking play and one which, with Remembrance Day approaching, is a timely reminder of the sacrifices made by those in the armed forces and their family and friends and is certainly one where the circumstances, themes and issues in the story stay with you long after the performance.
Love Your Soldiers is currently showing at the Crucible Theatre and runs until the 23rd November 2013. For further information and to book tickets, visit