Guy Masterson's powerful adaptation of Ken Lukowiak's brilliant account of his combat experiences during the Falklands War of 1982 was a sell-out success at the 1998 Edinburgh Festival. It played London's B.A.C., all over the United Kingdom, and toured to Holland, New Zealand, Ireland and Hungary.
The Falklands Conflict happened 30 years ago. It was dubbed "Britain's last colonial war". Maggie Thatcher, mired in political turmoil at home, sent 5000 troops 8000 miles down to the bottom of the world to reclaim a tiny pair of islands at the southern tip of South America colonised by less than 1000 British Subjects which had been 'illegally' invaded by Argentina.
The conflict lasted only two months, but encapsulated everything that war is; the failed politics, the military build up, the epic voyage, the beach landings, sinking of ships, artillery strewn battlefields, grenades and bayonets, the heroism, the horror and the tragedy. Britain's victory saved Thatcher's premiership and secured Conservative supremacy for 15 more years, but left hundreds of soldiers with the deep scars of war, the loss of comrades and a lifetime of Post Traumatic Stress. But, the Falklands victory also epitomized the fortitude of the Great British Tommy, and a potent source of national pride.
Ken Lukowiak was there. A lowly infantryman in 2 Para. At the beach landings, the famous battle at Goose Green and the death of Colonel H Jones, the sinking of the Galahad in Fitzroy and at the liberation of Port Stanley. He saw it all and, a decade later, wrote an acclaimed article for the Guardian from which he was commissioned to write a book - A Soldier's Song. It became a best seller and Ken became a renowned War Correspondent.
In 1998, Guy Masterson adapted the book for solo performance and toured globally to widespread acclaim.
A Soldier's Song brought the battlefield to the stage in an extraordinary work of theatre; to kill or be killed, to cower from the shells. This is the theatre of War in its facets, invoking the horror, terror, shame, black humour, futility and tedium of a soldier's life on the front line and the lingering effects of Post Traumatic Stress. Deeply disturbing and frightening at times utilised a pounding, totally authentic multi-directional sound-scape, it was also extremely funny, employing the dark "squaddie" humour to offset the darkness. The brutal demotic language and reality of the battlefield was brought to vividly to life. It was heralded by the Times in 1999 as "The Saving Private Ryan of Theatre"