(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 1/12.)
How would we react to a future terrorist attack? What impact would it have on our lives and personalities? Those are just two of the questions raised by this extraordinary new play by Stuart Slade, which arrives in the West End after an acclaimed run at Theatre 503. It even questions our own complicity in seeking entertainment in stories about a horrific disaster.
Slade’s play takes the form of what in TV terms would be called a mockumentary. We seem to be watching a verbatim piece in which six members of a survivors’ group relive their reaction to an attack in which a passenger plane has been brought down over Fulham, southwest London, by a surface-to-air missile. Although the story is told through interlocking monologues, the six characters, who take their names from the actors, seek to form mutual bonds. Alex, an arrogant banker whose girlfriend has died in the disaster, hooks up with Izzy, who has lost her mother. Floss, a posh student, is linked by bizarre circumstances to Clive, a devout Muslim whose cardiologist dad died in the crash. Roxana, a Romanian with severe burns, secretly despises Graham, a bigoted van driver who profits from his eyewitness account of the event.