Triggered by the shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham, North London, what started as a peaceful vigil of friends and family exploded into a free-for-all of arson and theft.

Footage of the fires and looting form the backdrop against which one father tells how he and his two young sons managed to escape from his flat above CarpetRight before the building was scorched to an empty shell. Comparisons are drawn between MPs who fiddled their expenses and the rampaging opportunists who walked away with televisions and designer trainers.

From the spoken evidence of politicians and policemen, community leaders and culprits, victims and bystanders, writer Gillian Slovo has put together a forceful, even-handed verbatim account of the events leading up to those four days of rampage and unrest, which also gives voice to the various explanations offered by authority figures and those involved.

Anger, frustration, racial and social injustice, cuts and grievances are all mentioned – as is the failure of the police to contain an escalating situation.

There are no definitive answers, but what comes across loud and clear in Nicolas Kent’s fluent production is that the underlying issues need to be addressed before the simmering disaffection kicks off into violence once again. 

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