It is harrowing material but its honesty is vitally important
Thirteen stories are told from many different conflicts including Nazi Germany, Vietnam, Hiroshima and Afghanistan. The four actors all give understated performances that do credit to the stories they tell. They are poised, and though they are conveying overwhelming emotions of pain, anger, horror and fear in their stories, they never over-act or tip into melodrama.
The stories told range from the horror of a mother and daughter at Auschwitz, a badly burnt survivor of Hiroshima, an air hostess who worked on military flights to and from Vietnam, to wives caught up in the civil conflicts in Ireland. It is harrowing material but its honesty is vitally important.
Interspersed between the stories are bits of interviews typed out in real time on a projected screen. Sadly the text is too small and the time given too short to allow us to read these before the narratives pick up again.
In telling their own stories, the women’s strength and determination are revealed through their personal descriptions of the tragedies they endured. The actors do justice to these accounts of suffering by giving attention to the details in their changing stances and accents.
Valiant is a gripping example of theatre which forces us to confront the harsh realities of war by telling stories we would rather not hear. Hayton-Keeva wanted to see whether there are women who have been affected by war in the same way as men. She concludes with ‘I found them easily and I found them everywhere’.