#Tweetingit – 4* Terror attack aftermath, harrowing + moments of humour, soundly written and acted, scary but more chance of being hit by a London bus than a plane falling out of the sky.
Let’s take a look at the odds; dying in a plane crash; around 11 million to one; dying in a terrorist attack, a touch over 9 million to one. These are the stats you need to keep in mind with BU21, a highly emotive and challenging new play by Stuart Slade. The story imagines the aftermath of a plane shot down over London on 22 July 2016. It concentrates on the ripple effect and how lives touched by the atrocity would never be the same again.
Theatre 503, positioned above the Latchmere pub in Battersea is a smart, well-appointed venue with a sparsely lit performance area; a perfect canvas for the story as it gently unfolded. One by one, six Londoners took the stage to relate their experience, occasionally appearing ensemble as a survivor help group. Such accounts have a frightening air of reality; the loss of a mother, a girlfriend, a best friend, life changing injuries; and the pure horror of a human being dying before someone’s eyes. A carefully managed injection of humour does however take the edge off the carnage.
The excellent Alex Forsyth assumes the dual role of survivor and narrator, addressing the audience with some genuinely funny asides; his monologue questions why we are drawn to tales of suffering, loss and heroism? Why do people slow down on the motorway to look at a car crash; why not switch channels when we catch a depressing headline. Are we convinced it can’t happen to us, and so can watch insulated, from a safe distance? Maybe we simply need to remind ourselves of the survival instinct we all possess.
Stuart Slade proves himself an extremely good writer, simply because he makes us think and more importantly, confront our fears. He was ably assisted by a fine cast who brought the monologues to life with an earthy realism. As I watched, the 7/7 attacks inevitably came back to me. Never an easy memory but something neither I, nor anyone in London that day will ever forget. That alone might have put me off this play but reminders can be found wherever we look. The play shines because it shows a mental toughness and unquenchable spirit in adversity; for that alone it deserves great credit.
Author: Stuart Slade
Director: Dan Pick
Producer: Holly Hooper/ Kuleshov
Box Office: 020 7978 7040
Booking link: https://theatre503.com/book-online/
Booking until: 9 April 2016