Edinburgh Fringe 2009
By Order of Ignorance
Venue: The Space UK: The Space @The Royal College of Surgeons.
Festival: Edinburgh Fringe
Two men find themselves in a terrifying situation: face- to- face with a suicide bomber, Muhammad. Immediately, panic ensues as Jeff and George fight to save themselves and the lives of other innocents. In times where terror is a terrifyingly real part of our lives, this play highlights both the hypocrisies of extremist groups and the importance of accepting those in the minorities. Hugely thought-provoking and beautifully uplifting, this is an important and successful play.
Jeff, a British Television presenter and George, an American in the forces coincidentally find themselves in the same London Café. A shot is heard and Muhammad, appears, having injured himself. It is soon revealed that as well as yielding a gun, the young man, severely beaten by youths in childhood so that he is “slower than the rest of them,” is also strapped to a home-made bomb. Insisting that they all should die, as they are home to all sorts of evil, Jeff and George are pushed to their emotional limits in order to save themselves, other potential victims, as well as the brainwashed life of Muhammad.
The brilliance of the script, and indeed the actors, are the tiny details throughout. The play is hardly comic, but on a few occasions the writing lets up and somewhat lighter dialogue is produced. George’s “Oh Jesus”, responded by Mo by “No, He won’t help you” verges on being blackly comic, for example. Also, when Mo’s demands for food are satisfied, he shares it out with his two captives, a truly heart-warming anecdote.
The play is, in the best way possible, fairly straightforward, direction focused on the characters themselves rather than it being an interesting visual piece. This, furthermore, highlights that the play is about humankind and is not an experimental, physical piece. The finale of the piece, with the two captives reflecting on their experience, both speaking at the same time but with dips in the dialogue to highlight the key points and themes works effectively: a clear message for a straight-talking play.
However, the play feels somewhat under-rehearsed and falls short of its time allotment. Some periods of dialogue flag a little: the predominantly fast paced script highlights areas where it becomes slower and the audience learns very little. More focus could have been given to the histories of all of the characters, the play gives tantalising details and those watching yearn for more. These are, however, minor details as the prickly tension throughout leads to the audience leaving thoroughly satisfied and quietly reflective.
A must see for anyone willing to accept their own ignorance and prejudice towards extremists. Highly contemporary and well executed, the talented, three man shows shines through its somewhat gloomy topic area.