Writer: Robin Hooper
Director: Richard Wilson
Designer: James Cotterill
Reviewer: Sheila Stratford
The action takes place in war torn Afghanistan and the domestic front in Britain. The play focuses on the relationship between two young soldiers and their girlfriend. It explores how they continue their relationships thousands of miles apart. How they cope with the devastating effects of war and the burden of loss and lies entangled within their love triangle.
It is a fresh, contemporary play by the actor and writer Robin Hooper. One of his inspirations for writing the play was generated by the image of the ‘bacha bazi’. A very old Afghanistan tradition, whereby young boys dressed as girls dance for men, being sold into a form of sexual slavery. This is a war play that centres on relationships and not politics. Working in conjunction with Richard Wilson, Sheffield Theatres’ associate director, a powerful play, full of suspense and realism has been created. There is a myriad of issues covered within the play. Everything is not clear cut, but that is to be expected in conflicts of war, the meeting of different cultures and separation.
There are strong performances from the soldiers played by Chris Leask and Jordan Bright. Charlotte Beaumont in the rôle of the girlfriend brings a touching poignancy and tenderness. There are other characters within the play including Afghanis, all contributing to the effectiveness of the play.
The use of Skype for communicating is a compelling and excellent element within the play. There are two large screens with a box in between to accommodate some of the action. The faces projected onto the screens create the opportunity to concentrate on the facial emotions of the three main characters while at the same time being one step removed. This enhances the experience of the frustrations of separation.
At other times photographs are projected onto the screens to provide a vehicle for changing the scenes within this one act play. Minimal props, supported by effective lighting, sound and photographs, create atmospheric settings that range from the noise of war to the hospital bed.
Love Your Soldiers challenges the audience to confront the harsh realities of being a young soldier and the complex emotions that are generated on the personal lives of those directly involved.