Topped and tailed by imagined past and present conversations between two of the scientists instrumental in the genesis of the nuclear bomb, outgoing artistic director Nicolas Kent’s final production explores the history and development of this manmade weapon of destruction over 5 hours and 10 short plays.
Punctuated by newsreel footage and verbatim statements, they can be seen in one day or over two evenings, and range from Whitehall in 1940 to present day Iran, via the US, India, the Ukraine and North Korea. Seven Joys, Lee Blessing’s clever satirical take on the issue of proliferation, portrays the nuclear powers as members of a progressively less exclusive club. Irish-accented Ukrainians with a warhead to sell raise wry laughs in John Donnelly’s cheeky Little Russians. Most effective of all, David Greig’s absurdist The Letter of Last Resort sees an incoming Prime Minister (Belinda Lang) instructed to compose final orders – retaliate or not? – to an offshore submarine in the event of London’s total annihilation.
Some episodes are more effective than others, but the cast of eleven does a fine job throughout and credit again to Kent and the theatre he has run for almost three decades for putting the political, financial and moral issues surrounding the nuclear debate firmly – and disturbingly – centre stage.
Tricycle, Kilburn High Road, NW6 7JR
Tube: Kilburn Tube
Until 1st April
£14 – £16 One Part, £25 – £29 Both Parts
– Louise Kingsley