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"
"Masterson's unique brand of poetic performance storytelling is a must-see. Only a few could attempt what he does... fewer still could get away with it." (The Times)
"A Soldier's Song is an honest and emotive evocation of life on the front line... an exact insight into the nature of futility... Bravura acting!" (The Herald)
"Masterson's beautifully understated performance delivers the bullet straight to the brain... It's an A1 top-hole, first class, first hand experience of what an exploding shell can do to human flesh." (The Guardian)
"A magnificent, powerfully haunting tour de force. Storm the box office!" (The List)
"We are transported inside the war itself, it's hard to believe you are watching a play. Brutally honest and unsentimental its the best war movie never made!" (Evening News)
NOMINATED: BEST ACTOR 1998 "An intense, powerful performance." (The Stage)
A SOLDIER'S SONG (1998) Programme Notes
The Gulf War was a media bonanza, but much about the Falklands Conflict remained unreported. The politics of the situation was certainly far from clear and no formal declaration of war was ever made. To a new generation of professional soldiers, 'seeing action' was an opportunity to put hard training to good use, to prove once again Britain's prowess as a force to be reckoned with. 'Maggie's Boys', with full UN backing for the reversal of Argentina's 'unwarranted aggression and illegal invasion', and World opinion weighted in their favour, travelled 8000 miles to the South Atlantic in one of the most logistically challenging military expeditions ever attempted. But, heavily outnumbered and attacking a force well dug in for over a month, defeat was not unthinkable. The weather was always going to be a major factor which could easily disrupt Britain's grossly overstretched supply lines and tip the balance of the war... and the Navy's several disastrous reversals at the hands of a well trained Argentine Air Force also very nearly proved terminal to the mission...
Ken Lukowiak, the author of the book from which this monologue has been adapted, served with 2 Para. He was involved in the fifteen hour battle for Goose Green and the liberation of Port Stanley. He was also present at the disastrous bombing of the Sir Galahad and the Sir Tristram at Bluff Cove and finally the liberation of Port Stanley. He saw it all.