by Headlong Theatre.
Commodity Quay, St Katharine Docks 1 East Smithfield E1W 1AZ To 15 October 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
Runs: 3hr One interval.
TICKETS 020 7452 3000.
Review: Carole Woddis 8 September.
Writers too numerous for them to bother mentioning in full create an event without a heart.
Perhaps it’s a question of style over content. Rupert Goold is one of British theatre’s most exciting young directors, with more than a touch of the showman.
After his success with Macbeth and Enron, Decade represents Headlong Theatre, and Goold’s, most ambitious challenge to date: `theatricalising’ the decade since 9/11, arguably the single most iconic event of the 21st century.
It’s staged in the old London Trade Centre at St Katharine Docks, a now-derelict luxury liner of a building, its `ballroom’ simulating the Windows of the World restaurant at the top of what was New York’s Trade Center. There is even the kind of menu workers would have had on that fateful day. So much for the ambience.
As to the experience, it’s curiously unmoving, for all the emotion and motion (choreography courtesy of Scott Ambler) engendered by the stories. Not so much a catharsis as a snapbook of responses, from the obsessive (mourning) to the exploitative (a young tour-guide offering more than tea and sympathy to tearful visitors to Ground Zero), from the personal (messages left on mobiles) to the political (Obama and Islamic mullahs).
Some twenty writers on both sides of the Atlantic were involved in the project, including Abi Morgan and John Logan, neither of whose plays made it to the final cut. There is no attribution of each play to its writer, so it’s difficult to precisely gauge responsibility for the variable standards of writing.
I was particularly gripped by a rat-a-tat exchange between the American soldier who shot Bin Laden and a reporter (by Mike Bartlett, it turns out) whilst the two most powerful and possibly real testimonies, one by an English trader, Scott Forbes (dramatised by Samuel Adamson) and the other a therapy session (Christopher Shinn) were both made the more memorable by the extraordinary sensitivity of the actor delivering them, Tobias Menzies.
Three Twin Towers’ widows, meeting on the same day over the decade, hold the evening together. One, the excellent Charlotte Randle, expresses a not uncommon view. She’s had enough.
All the same, some project – and some company. Undoubtedly, an `event’.
Cast: Jonathan Bonnici, Leila Crerar, Emma Fielding, Kevin Harvey, Tom Hodgkins, Samuel James, Arinze Kene, Amy Lennox, Tobias Menzies, Claire Prempeh, Charlotte Randle, Cat Simmons, Chloe Faty, Isabella Mason, Charlotte St Croix.
Director: Rupert Goold.
Designer: Miriam Buether.
Lighting: Malcolm Rippeth.
Sound/Composer: Adam Cork.
Technical Sound: Sebastian Frost.
Choreographer: Scott Ambler.
Costume: Emma Williams.
Dialect Coach: Richard Ryder.
Dance Captain: Cat Simmons.
Associate director: Robert Icke.
Assistant director: Nadia Latif.
Associate lighting: Vicky Brennan.
World premiere of Decade at Commodity Quay, St Katharine Docks London 1 September 2011. Decade is produced by Headlong in association with Chichester Festival Theatre.