TOUCHING THE PAST, a play about Nancy Astor, Britain’s first female MP
STORM feature film based on the SAS’s secret war in Oman is in pre-production with director R. Paul Wilson
NIGHT, a new play, opens at The Old Library, Bodmin December 2019
ALL AT SEA, feature film comedy, was released in September 2019
  • Western Morning News, May 28 1997
    Squaddie in the firing line
    • WHEN Ken Lukowjak was sent to the Falklands as a paratrooper barely out of basic training, he thought. fighting the Argies would be good clean fun.
      He soon realised it wasn't, and in an attempt to exorcise the ghosts of Goose Green, he wrote the autobiographical A Soldier's Song - which became a bestseller.
      Hugh Janes's adaptation works best where it portrays the life of a squaddie under fire - dull, exciting, squalid, terrifying and occasionally very funny.
      The action takes place on a huge pile of sandbags which serves as Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Buenos Aries and Ken's front room.
      A small but perfectly formed cast work their socks off playing several different parts each and Grant Russell as Ken, Philip Woodford (Frank) and Stephen Benson (Bill) are outstanding.
      The lighting and sound design is excellent Lukowiak's book touched a nerve because it was not about academic pontification, but an ordinary soldier struggling to come to terms with what he had experienced.
      Lukowiak turns out to be the Eric Cantona of military philosophy. Nothing much to say, but he's got a great way of saying it.

      A Soldier's Song is a thought provoking evening and the Theatre Royal's management should be applauded for putting up the money to make it happen.
      David George

  • Plymouth Evening Herald, May 26 1997
    Life, death, war and the universal soldier
    • LOCAL author Hugh Janes has based his compassionate and, for the most part thoroughly engrossing play on the autobiographical book by Ken Lukowiak.
      Lukowiak,played by Grant Russell, had been embroiled in the brief but bloody Falklands War. When he retuned he had aged much more than the three years that had passed since he had joined up as a very virgin soldier in 1979.
      Physically, the production may be small scale, the situations personal and private, but the themes it treats are epic, not least in their depiction of a man desperate to come to terms with aspects of his subconscious which aught perhaps be better left unmined.
      For this striking production, directed by the author, the stage is a battleground with mounds and gulleys formed by sandbags. Lighting changes specific areas and moods, while the sounds of war, the ships at sea, the helicopters, the bullets and the bombardments thunder around the walls.

      The playwright faces two main challenges. The first is that real life is seldom structured in a pattern, So it is here. The result is that over a timespan of 18 years we fleetingly meet a multitude of characters.

      The versatile performers, Polly Hayes, Philip Woodlord, Bill Bingham and Stephen Benson, superbly delineate everyone from English girlfriend to Argentinian reporter, from soldiers and civilians on both sides to phantom figures from Ken's family. The sequences and vignettes flash by, each in itself comic or dramatic yet always entertaining.


      The other challenge is, how do you close it?

      The last image of Lukowiak with the dead soldier on the ridge made the point forcefully and poignantly without the need of words.

  • Plymouth Extra, June 5 1997
    Portraying the grim reality of Falklands conflict
    • THE grim reality of war could not have been more convincing in A Soldier's Song at the Drum Theatre Plymouth.
      The small group of actors who gave their all, and the realistic sound and stage effects left the audience in no doubt as to the horror and tragedy of the Falkiands war. All the characters in A Soldier's Song, adapted from the book by Ken Lukowiak, exist or existed and the events and the stories also happened, depicting reality of this conflict.
      Bite the bullet and see this masterfully written and directed play, on at the Drum until Saturday

  • The Independant, May 27 1997
    Theatre - A Soldier's Song
    • It is a neat rounding of the circle that Hugh Janes's adaptation of Ken Lukowiak's personal account of the Falkiands War should be first seen in Plymouth. At the time (1982), the city was seething with an unholy electric excitement, not in any bloodthirsty sense, but mOre like the home team playing away in some gladiatorial event, perhaps an international version of the gun carriage contest. Amid the general of air unreality, casualties seemed like sporting injuries.
      A Soldier's Song recreates the era, briefly, in the first act. The characterisation of the laconic paras, the red beret putting them almost outside military control, the black humour and bravado of the chosen and their contempt for other units, is well realised. In 1979, Ken signs up in a recruiting office and is soon overwhelmed by military machismo. We see him in Aldershot, in Ulster, where "we're not fighting people, but 400 years of blind prejudice", and embarking and landing on the Falkland Isles, while still finding time to get married. The unrealistic nature of the brief war is underlined by the fact that a soldier places the Falklands in the Outer Hebrides.
      The battle scenes are as realistic as could be recreated on a stage. Hugh Janes, who also directs, integrates sound and lighting to overwhelming effect. But the sequence is too long and would improve by tightening and shortening. More effective are the scenes where the battle-weary soldier encounters his dead relatives, with memories of earlier wars, showing how the myths of the past fuel the present. Ken's grandfather, a kilted bagpiper, passes on deadly warnings with grim humour. The surreal incidents broaden and deepen the play's impact.
      In Act 2, the fighting is done and Lukowiak's disillusionment begins to show. He is filled with disgust when one of his companions wants his photograph taken lying beside a dead Argentine soldier, like a matador with a dead bull who had fought with honour. Fifteen years after the war, Lukowiak goes back to the Falklands to try to rekindle numbed feelings. In 1997, he goes to Buenos Aires where his book has had a hostile reception, and has a philosophical discussion with an Argentine ex-officer: you have to be fit and young for battles, and too young to know the full implications of actions undertaken in the name of freedom, national pride and Mrs Thatcher.
      A splendid set of actors keep A Soldier's Song going as a piece of action theatre. Grant Russell plays Lukowiak and Philip Woodford, Bill Bingham, Stephen Benson and Polly Hayes play a variety of roles in sharply etched vignettes.
      The Falkiands War baffled onlookers all over the world but, it is acknowledged, won an election for Mrs Thatcher - it wasn't only Plymouth pride. In some odd way, the petty conflict rang a bell in the national psyche.
      Allen Saddler

  • Theatre Magazine, July/August issue 1997
    • "Sound and lighting create a son et lumire of the fighting, with helicopters coming in so realistically that the audience duck in their seats."

      "Hugh Janes has created an all-action documentary with precision theatre-craft."

      The Stage - June 12th 1997

      "The hilarious opening scene with a parachute grabs our attention and holds it throughout."

      "Hugh Janes, who also directs, conjures a thought-provoking interpretation of Lukowiak's eloquent personal account."

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