How (do you think you) would you react, respond, replay, remember, re-enact and recover following the aftermath of a terrorist attack?
Stuart Slade’s incisive, immersive, intimate and intelligent play charts the lives of six victims affected in myriad ways (there are physical, emotional, psychological scars) following the shooting down of flight BU21. The event changes, shapes and alters their fate with the past and present colliding: circumstance, happenstance and chance all lead to entwined, conjoined lives that create a hitherto unheralded future.
Derived from the testimonies of real statements the play filters these via monologues to dialogue: the survivors’ support group network providing the thread and platform for the neuroses, patterns of behaviour, habits, idiosyncrasies, prejudices, motives and tellingly the li(v)es lived and conducted that come to the fore revealing more than they knew about themselves.
Memories are confronted, challenged, (mis)remembered and in one case fabricated: an accidental ‘hero’ whose desire to help snowballs into a world of fantasy and exploitation.
Masks and façades adopted eventually crumble and slip, some characters confront their existence and change and progress whilst others lapse back into narcissistic and mendacious behaviour. For some redemption awaits, for others (once a banker always a …) life repeats itself, business as usual. The six actors inhabit and exhibit these (universal) characters and their wrangled foibles with all their being, you ‘feel’ their grief and share their pain and dilemmas.
This is a forensic examination of the human condition provoking age old notions of identity, nationhood and belonging and how fear and paranoia can be manipulated.
Crucially it also addresses the pernicious role of the media and authorities who hijack, co-opt and corrupt testimonies for their nefarious means to effect further control of perception (mis)management (e.g brown face and backpack= terrorist = divide and conquer = job done) and to justify increased surveillance and illegal invasions.
My only (minor) gripes would be the reductive nature of the ‘xenophobic Northerner in an England shirt’ and that terrorism is far from a modern occurrence.
Postscript: Is the shot-down Flight BU21 an allegory for ‘Be you to one’ another, that despite/in spite of what(ever) happens, ‘be’ this?