3 stars ***
C nova (Venue 145)
THE ROOM IS dark, and vital information about the women whose voices we are about to hear is conveyed via smudgy live typescript on a fluttering curtain; in many ways, the whole experience seems designed forradio, rather than live theatre. Yet if you care about the experience of women caught up in war, you shouldn’t hesitate to spend an hour watching Valiant, Lanna Joffrey’s adaptation of a book of unforgettable verbatim interviews on the subject of women and war recorded by the late American writer Sally Hayton-Keeva.
First seen in New York in 2005, Valiant records the experience of women in war from Hiroshima to Belfast, and to the death camps of Europe in the Second World War; each voice is identified only by a single Christian name, and beautifully brought to life by a company of four actors led by Lanna Joffrey herself, and also including Catherine Rees, Diana Bermudez, and Eimear O’Riordan. And what is striking about this beautifully-pitched performance, which depends almost entirely on the vocal skil and presence of the actors, is not only the utter horror of what these women have witnessed and endured, but the magnificent, positive passion for peace, and for the building of a world in which such horrors can be laid to rest, that seems to have inspired so many of them; in postwar lives still haunted by horror, but also rich in purpose and love, and in determination to become the mothers – or midwives – of a better future.