- Alistair Maxwell
- 24 August 2018
When soldiers go to war, what happens to the wives they leave behind?
Helen-Marie O'Malley's first full-length play asks this question but without exploring it in any great depth. Instead, we witness three characters demonstrate clumsy exposition as they meander through the plotless piece.
The play sheds occasional light on important issues, such as the financial and emotional cost of families being uprooted as their patriarch goes to fight. Westminster's increasingly isolationist policies leave Commonwealth soldiers that are brave enough to fight, very little as a reward if they intend to stay once their time is served. One character is a proud Gàidhlig speaker, another attempting to keep the Fijian mother tongue alive. These elements could be fascinating to compare and contrast but instead they are left hanging limply in the air, never to be elaborated on.
However, the play starts strong. Leading with its most theatrical elements, the women receive a harrowing, yet official text stating that there has been a fatality but that their husband is safe. Joy, relief and guilt rise at once. Although their husband is safe, someone else's is dead. One day it may be the other way around.
Perhaps the biggest issue with the piece is its lack of plot. The three women sit around talking about their experiences being army wives, but very little happens theatrically. Hodge-podge elements of stories and storytelling never congeal into a satisfying narrative. For so important a topic, little is done to make it compelling. Interesting insight into the personal issues of the women is replaced by mere mentions before another topic is brought up. This may effectively replicate the tangential nature of human conversation, but does very little to keep the attention or interest of the audience.
InValid Voice, Army @ The Fringe, 10-25 (not 13, 20), 4pm, £12 (£10, £8 F).