In April 1982 the Argentine army was deployed throughout the British-owned Falkland Islands and Britain reciprocated by dispatching its Naval Task Force. The conflict last 74 days before the Argentinean forces surrendered. In modern day Britain the combat remains an occasional topic of lively debate, yet is mostly forgotten. As with any conflict fought thousands of miles from the shores, public consciousnesses remained in the clutches of media coverage. Faith, written by Meredith Oaks, is set on an un-disclosed Falkland Island where the British residents of the Falklands meet the British military and where the military objectives of the British army clash with the personal principles of the soldiers.
Set in the home of ex-pat Sandra, a group of exhausted soldiers rest in the makeshift billet. In the base the hierarchy of the army loosens as the Sergeant and his subordinates clash over the disregarding of orders. The crux of the play surrounds a fatally injured American mercenary who has a less then desirable fate: orders from above are to execute him. A battle between allegiance to Queen, country and Margaret Thatcher ensues as the military personnel offer their shrewd analysis of what it means to be a soldier.
The cast are superb. There is a sense of camaraderie created that is rare to come by in a production. The jostling, frolics and altercations are staged with fluidity and believability. Charlie Clements as jovial Private Mick Pike is entertaining and amusing. As the script demands a sudden move into anger or aggression, the contrast creates drama and tension. Stanley Eldridge is unnerving as seemingly callous L. Corporal Adam Ziller. Eldbridge is cold where necessary and adulterates his character with glimmers of humanity. Stammering Private Lee Finch is portrayed by Alexander Wolfe with intrigue. The character is clearly hiding great depth under still waters and struggles to effectively communicate his views. Georgina Sutton as beleaguered Sandra creates a character clearly under duress. Meanwhile, struggling Sergeant Toby Spiers (Ian Sharp) is nervously diffident as he attempts to negotiate his instilled sense of patriotic duty with his private beliefs.
A remarkable aspect of all performances is the flawless, unfaltering adoption of regional dialects. Clements more than convincingly plays the Liverpool accent. Similarly, Mawgan Gyles and Ian Sharp adopt the foreign accents of American and Yorkshire-man with negligible slip-ups. A large amount of credit is due to dialect coach Paula Jack.
In Faith the actors perform zealously with a script that constrains action rather than facilitates it. Despite great performances and well-oiled direction and dialects, Faith fails to deliver as an urgent, moral battle. The narrative of the play is unfocussed, while the dilemmas and internal battles of faith are either unclear or undemonstrated. The Sergeant, for example, is inconsistently written, giving no clue as to whether he is a struggling patriot or a ‘programmed’ soldier. Multitudes of themes are touched upon, yet the capricious nature of the play and its protagonists mean little depth is cultivated. The mirroring wars of citizen and soldier, right and wrong, order and belief are presented and never dissected. This is a shame considering the sterling effort of all involved in Faith.