DRONES, BABY, DRONES
A double bill
by Ron Hutchinson and Christina Lamb.
by David Greig.
The Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London E8 3DL to 26 Novem ber 2016.
Mon-Tues 7.30pm Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 1 hr 35 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7503 1646
Review: William Russell 7 November.
Killing by proxy, men, women and machines
This double bill could hardly be more relevant at a time when America is electing its next president who, like the present one, will preside over the decision who to take out by remote control. Drone warfare is war without body bags. But there is collateral damage. The operators safe in a desert control post somewhere in the USA do make mistakes. Innocent people do get killed. The decision takers have private lives that affect their decisions.
The first play deals with the stress a CIA director suffers when her daughter is injured in a car crash and she is due to attend the weekly meeting at which the decisions are taken; the problems of her colleague, who is having an affair which is reaching a crucial point; and a Pentagon General being confronted on the morality of it all by the man he is working out with in the gym.
It is the lesser of the two, however, although it makes its point about how the decision takers are not gods by any means but people stressed in their private lives.
In The Kid two couples on the desert base from which the drones are operated are having dinner. One husband is the man who fires the weapons; one wife is the person who guides the drones. Their partners know what they do – the husband of the pilot thinks they are heroes who should get a pay rise, the wife of the man who fires the weapon announces she is pregnant. But the celebration turns sour as it becomes clear something went wrong with the apparently successful attempt to take out a much wanted man they are talking about. Pressing the button is not the end of the matter.
Warfare by proxy may not be what is being waged in the Middle East by many of the participants, although it is being waged against the Taliban in Afghanistan and elsewhere, but it is the great moral issue of the times. The American public is unaware of what is going on, there are no bodies in bags as there were with Vietnam to horrify, and it all seems as remote as those video games in the local arcade. Just warlike fun. But what happens should the drones, baby, turn on those who operate the drones?
Good performances and brisk direction by Nicholas Kent and Mehmet Ergen make it an evening to ponder as America elects a new person who will pick the person to kill.
Maxine & Shauna: Anne Adams.
Jay & Ramon: Joseph Balderamma.
General Ben Crow & Clive Strafford-Smith: Sam Dale.
Captain Mario Garcia: Raj Ghatak.
Doug & Pete: Tom McKay.
Meredith & Alice: Rose Reynolds.
Director: Mehmet Ergen.
Director: Nicholas Kent.
Design: Lucy Sierra.
Lighting & Video design: Richard Williamson.
Sound Design: Neil McKeown.
Costume Supervisor: Hanne Talbot.