City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Letters Home Review

By Vivien Devlin - Posted on 23 August 2010

Letters Home.JPG
Show details
Adam House
Ribcaged Productions
Running time: 
Trace Currall (writer), Owen Phillips (director), Keith Reid (Stage design)
Rick Guard (Terry), Keith Reid (Gary), Daniel Street Brown (Smudge Marine), Harry John Raison (Tash Marine), Stephanie McKervill (Nurse)

The award winning production of “Black Watch” by the National Theatre of Scotland,  is based on interviews with former soldiers who served in Iraq. Personal anecdotes reveal what it means to be part of the Scottish regiment in a war on terror.  

As we hear of continual casualties in Afganistan and Iraq, prompting the debate about withdrawal of troops, it is timely and valuable to look at soldiers’ personal experience of fighting in a war, far removed from a news report on television.

2012 will mark the thirtieth anniversary of the Falklands War, which for many of us is a distant memory, or perhaps unknown to younger people. In 1982, Trace Currall served with the Royal Marines in the Falklands, and he wrote this play based on his own memoirs and real life accounts.

To create a dramatic narrative,  two of the five characters are brothers, Terry, Royal Marines, and Gary, Royal Navy, who relate their experiences of the conflict by way of letters home to their mother in Liverpool.

Centre stage is a large 10ft high square white box which slickly turns, scene by scene to depict bunk bed cabin, steaming shower, Officer’s Mess (with photograph of Margaret Thatcher), and wall of camouflage sheeting. The story begins when the soldiers, kitted out in authentic green berets and military uniforms, are put through their paces in an exercise routine.

Having trained to be a fighter, Terry is initially excited about being posted to take part in a war, en route on board a troop ship to the South Atlantic. Here in a minus 40 degree gale, he writes to his mother,  “I don’t know where I am, all I can see is sea.  It's taking a long time to get there, although just off the north of Scotland - just joking! "

Meanwhile, Gary is keen to get out to the war zone too and ends up working on a hospital ship which offers a different perspective of the action.

Using extracts from news film footage, images of the sinking of the Belgrano, an interview with Thatcher, deafening sound effects of gunfire and few blasts of punk music (featuring lyrics on jingoism and death), the stage is transformed into the terrifying, tragic atmosphere of the Goose Green battlefield.

This moving play packs a dramatic punch because it’s brutally honest and based on fact. Performed with heartfelt emotion and insight, the soldiers’ attitude to war changes for ever once they witness its harsh reality.

P.S. I visited the Falkland Islands this year, while circumnavigating South America by ship.  The scars of war are still evident with the continuing, slow disposal of land mines from beaches and roadside.  This is a beautiful, bleak, natural wildlife wilderness where the British people are fiercely patriotic to preserve their culture, heritage and island life. The heroism of Trace Currall, his colleagues and all British servicemen will never be forgotten.

Show times
Till 30 August, 12.15pm

Ticket prices
£7.50- £ 9.50 (
concs £6.50-£8.50).