Edinburgh Fringe 2010
"Ribcaged" present a pacy and engaging tale of two brothers serving in the Falklands conflict, based on real letters home.
A white revolving box-shaped structure moves us simply from mess to battlefield, hospital to ship, but tends to over-dominate the proceedings without much visual development – the action is much more exciting and imaginative when 2 trestle tables, manipulated with bravado by four actors in a lovely set-piece, become a gun carriage at the Royal Tournament in London.
As the government responds to the Argentinian invasion, the Marines are diverted from leave straight to the war zone and the Navy side of the family, stuck in Earl’s Court, clamours to join the action, worried that the older sibling might get all the glory. The brothers are gradually drawn together in the fray, 8,000 cold and lonely miles away and begin to bear witness to all the horrors that war can create.
Rick Guard and Keith Reid’s brothers, Terry and Gary, are convincing, capturing effectively the simultaneous yearning for victory and safety. Owen Phillip’s direction keeps things brisk and pacy and there are some occasional gems, particularly Terry’s final letter home from a freezing trench, just prior to the re-taking of the islands, played simply and truthfully. The problem is that here and there the actors over-emote and with such strong subject matter the material overpowers them.
That said, a sequence about two helicopters rescuing sailors from a burning ship is poetic and moving and the final scene which ties up the story with the conversion of one of the brothers to an anti-Iraq war protester, also reminds us of those still serving in Iran – and Afghanistan.