It’s July 2016 and a plane crash has devastated the residents of Fulham. Who is responsible for thousands being hurt and numerous civilians losing their lives? The answer is unclear. The quest for the answer becomes BU21‘s underlying driving force.
Stuart Slade‘s BU21 echoes the post 9/11 and 7/7 world we now find ourselves living in. 6 lives, 6 ordinary lives turned upside down and transformed into the extraordinary due to the actions of a very angry unnamed/faceless group. An area of London associated with wealth is placed under the spotlight and given the added pressure of this tragic autrocity. Slade shows that no matter where you are from, we are all human, we all react differently to trauma and it’s important to connect and discuss what you are going through.
Reference is made within the play about the character’s wealthy backgrounds, and this in turn working against them in the media’s portrayal of their tragedy. What BU21 does is generate many questions and this is important. Can you truly judge someone on a first impression? Why does the media manipulate the way in which scenarios are portrayed? How long does it take to grieve? How much is a photograph you look at underneath a headline worth? Slade creates 6 viewpoints on what it is to survive and live after a traumatic event.
Alexander Forsyth‘s Ballsy Alex deals with his grief by devoting even more time to his work, and lives with a resentment towards his late partner who he’d discovered had been cheating on him with his best friend. Clive Keene‘s Clive discusses how the events of 9/11 effected how people viewed him, and how he’s constantly tussled between his Asian and British roots. Florence Roberts‘ bubbly Floss attempts to comprehend what happened on the day of the crash, a character not even close to the incident sadly finding herself a witness in the comfort of her own home. Graham Omara‘s personable Graham finds himself being elevated to being the voice of the people. The mouthpiece for everyone effected and a source of inspiration. Isabella Laughland‘s gragarious Izzy refuses to let the effects of the event dictate her life. She is a force of nature determined to create her own narrative. Roxana Lupu‘s composed Ana has a quiet strength and resilience. The only character to have been injured in the autrocity, Ana is very matter of fact and depicts the ‘keep calm carry on’ ethic we find ourselves living by.
These characters are gateways to the grieving process however they all, except Clive and Graham stay on one level. There is a great opportunity to showcase well rounded survivors however this doesn’t happen. A very topical subject matter is the core of this show and is what ties the narrative together however these characters glaze over everything that has happened and don’t display their character’s vulnerability, this makes it difficult to truly relate to them. Dan Pick Directs a part comical/dramatic piece with strong visual ensemble scenes. What’s clear is the idea of communities displaying their solidarity when darkness strikes. Alex Doidge-Green presents a stage littered with rubble and debris, perhaps referring to the ensemble’s state of mind and their constant trauma. Christopher Nairne presents 6 slanted bright white fluorescent lights, each switching off as the characters exit the stage. This is minimal but powerful, reflecting life and death. 3.5/5
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
BU21 is currently showing at the Trafalgar Studios until Saturday 18th February 2017. For more information on the production, visit here…