Theatre can be an
extension of journalism, a wonderful platform to explain, warn, make a case,
with the added stimulus of live performances and live audiences.
These two short, powerful,
and important, plays are built around fictional episodes but to drive the point
home that they are embedded in fact. Both are introduced by verbatim extracts
from an interview with Clive Stafford Smith, founder of the human rights group,
The overall title of
the double bill is taken from a quote from former US defence secretary, Robert
Gates. We have entered the ‘drone age’ says Stafford Smith, who makes the point
that the British government, as well as the US government, has drawn up a ‘kill
list’ of targets for drone strikes. In Washington, they have been decided at
weekly Tuesday meetings in the White House.
Both plays mix the
personal and the professional – the tension between personal relationships and responsibility
for pressing a button that will unleash a weapon on the drone thousands of
miles away, between bravado and bathos.
In the first play, This Tuesday, by Ron Hutchinson and the
journalist, Christina Lamb, a CIA operator watches over her daughter badly
injured in a car crash as she argues with a colleague concerned about the
legality of drone strikes. The second play, The
Kid, is written by David Greig. He engages you with increasingly engrossing
dialogue as the characters meet to celebrate a personal event and an apparently
successful drone strike. It ends with a searing intervention by the newly
pregnant partner of a drone operator, played by Rose Reynolds.
The direction by
Nicolas Kent (This Tuesday) and
Mehmet Ergen (The Kid) is sharp,
unfussy, and refreshing. The entire cast of Rose Reynolds, Tom McKay, Anne
Adams, Joseph Balderamma, Sam Dale, and Raj Ghatak, is strong and credible.
Both pieces are set in
the US. They made me think I would like to be a fly on the wall hearing
discussions and debates among British operators of drones – or, rather
‘remotely-piloted air systems’ which the Ministry of Defence insists on calling
them, to distance the UK from similar US operations.
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