Writer: Sarah Daniels
Reviewer: Selwyn Knight
The Public Reviews Rating:
Soldier’s Wives follows five women coping with their husbands’ careers in the army, while their menfolk are serving in Afghanistan. All are played by Catherine Shipton, which could lead to confusion, but each character is clearly sketched out with differences in voice, mannerisms and stance. We meet the women just after the unit has returned to Afghanistan – all except Pete, the flirtatious husband of Sue, who was injured in an incident on their last tour. All of the women’s husbands have been affected by this incident, which has had a ripple effect on the women themselves.
We first meet Lucy, the wife of the Major, who is keenly aware of her status among the women and feels she should be a leader and morale raiser. Unfortunately, her horsey manner does not always endear her to the others, so she relies on Anne, who works in the Welfare Centre, and Kate, the camp beautician, to keep her in the loop. The quintet is completed by Ruby, who ekes out her money by cleaning and ironing for the others. There are secrets galore that the women try valiantly to hide, but in that act of hiding breed rumour. They each tread a fine line as they try to deal with their own problems, each misunderstood by the others.
This is a moving play as we gradually uncover each woman’s vulnerabilities through the well-constructed script of Sarah Daniels, which, nevertheless, includes flashes of black humour. There is rarely any confusion as to which character is speaking and we do begin to feel for them, as Sue confronts the true nature of Pete’s injuries, for example. Ultimately, this is a heartfelt piece that puts a welcome spotlight on the suffering of those left behind.
Runs until 27 AugustEdinburgh Fringe: Soldiers’ Wives - Assembly Roxy,