BU21, 4Star****, London, To 18 02

by Stuart Slade.
4Stars ****

Trafalgar Studios to 18 February 2017.
1hr 45 mins (no interval).

Review: Tom Aitken 11 January 2017

Serious, but far from gloomy
The starting point for this dramatic exploration of the effects of a terrorist atrocity on young adults not immediately involved is the shooting down over Fulham, with a ground to air missile, of a packed American airliner. The crew and passengers of the aircraft are, unsurprisingly not the only victims of the atrocity.

Stuart Slade’s pungently written play consists of monologues, duologues and the occasional larger grouping, as young adults who were in Fulham that morning try to make sense of what has happened to them and people now dead whom they loved.

One of them had just left his girlfriend in the house where they had spent the night. He returned to see whether she was all right. The house had been flattened by the plane.and when he rushed back he found his girl friend’s body.
Some of the accounts we hear explore a longer perspective on the disaster. A young Moslem recalls hearing someone say ‘We’ll never be beaten… We’re Londoners.’ Some of this feeling, to his surprise, rubs off on him. And, to his surprise, some of his former religious faith worms its way, at least temporarily, into his responses.

We hear a series of these personal reflections, at first from individuals, later in groups, on the effects the even has had on them. Their emotional responses to what happened, its effects on themselves and others, and the moral and political issues raised by the horrific event, are batted back and forth.

Some of the discussion, from a Moslem standpoint, shows, without making a song and dance about it, the unifying effect of such an indiscriminate attack on not merely the victims in the plane, but on those caught in the fallout.

They find themselves discovering, sometimes bemusedly, that they have quite strong feelings about what life should be like. These have previously been dormant. Now they demand consideration.

Assumptions they weren’t previously aware they held have emerged in their consciousness and become important. They are puzzled about how this should be taken on board.

It would be a mistake to assume from the above that all this makes for a gloomy evening. Rather, we hear a number of reflections on the frightful event that make us smile or laugh out loud. As many people have said, in various ways, ‘laughter is (or at any rate can be, the best medicine’.
This play, in short, is about how we may find our way through the outrageous and tragic disasters of life, accidental or, as in this case, deliberately perpetrated.

Dan Pick’s production keeps moving and works very well and the cast misses no opportunity with the humorous punch lines that punctuate the play. It would be invidious to select any individual actors for praise. These are all people who know an effective line when thy see it.

PS, a word of warning: if bodily needs require you to leave the auditorium during the course of the play you will not be permitted to return, and must watch the remainder of the performance on a TV screen in the bar.

Director: Dan Pick
Production Designer: Alex Doidge-Green
Lighting: Christopher Nairne
Sound: Owen Crouch

Alex Forsyth, Clive Keen, Florence Roberts, Graham O’Mara, Isabella Laughland, Roxana Lupu

2017-01-13 11:47:50

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