Scena Theatre presents Steven Berkoff’s Sink the Belgrano!
By Julie LaPorte
In 1982 Argentina and Great Britain were facing off over the British-colonized Falkland Islands, each claiming them as their own. On May 2, the British submarine HMS Conqueror sank the Argentine cruiser Belgrano. In the months following, it was discovered that the sinking was not an act of self-defense, but a politically motivated attack to strengthen Margaret Thatcher’s party. Sink the Belgrano! is a satirical look at the hazy backroom deals, contradictions, lies and cover-ups that led to the Falklands War. Written by Steven Berkoff and directed by Robert McNamara, Sink the Belgrano! is playing at Scena Theatre through September 12.
“When Steven Berkoff is ‘en forme’ both his language and his themes are fueled by anger and a sense of outrage that are pitch perfect,” said McNamara. “He alone of modern British playwrights dares to ‘take on’ the British social and theatre establishments.”
Told in Berkoff’s trademark “Neo-Shakespearean verse, Cockney rhyming slang, and good, old-fashioned scatology,” Sink the Belgrano! made good use of comic timing, physical comedy and over-the-top exaggerations that were oftentimes hilarious. Nanna Ingvarsson, who played Maggot Scratcher, did a phenomenal job as the haughty, entitled, ambitious politician. In her blue suit, pearls and one black glove, she kept the action charging forward. Her foreign minister, portrayed by John Geoffrion, was also well-played – pandering and breezy one minute, frantically aware of the consequences of their actions the next. Michael Miyazaki played another advisor – simpering, weak and generally ineffective. The dynamic between these three made for some of the funniest scenes of the play.
Rounding out the cast were David Paglin, Regen Wilson, James Finley, John Tweel, Doug Krehbel, Mick McGuire, Sissel Bakken and Kim Curtis. Everyone in the cast (with the exception of Ingvarsson) played multiple characters – sailors, farmers, member of Parliament, the ‘common man’ – easing transitions with varying accents and mannerisms. They played off each other well, keeping the energy high and the tension building to the final scenes.
This is the North American premiere of Sink the Belgrano! and the play runs through September 12 at the H Street Playhouse. For more information, please visit Scena Theatre.