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Edinburgh Fringe 2013

The Lockerbie Bomber

Nugget Theatre Company

Genre: Drama

Venue: C,


Low Down

Two journalists decide to interview a grieving couple who never got over the loss of their son at Lockerbie. Meanwhile their investigations come under the watchful eye of a couple of very shadowy figures. One is a CIA operative with a nasty line in torture and the other from the shadowy British security services who also proves to be a feeder of information/misinformation to the journalists. The CIA operative prefers a more direct route leading to the contention that Lockerbie was after all one great big Government cover up.


This is a play with a point; the government in the UK colluded with the Americans to cover up what actually happened during the investigations into the Lockerbie air disaster. With the perspectives of a grieving family as well as the testimony of the shady government figures we have added the investigative prowess of two reporters designed to interrogate the narrative and find the truth.

My problem with it is that the journalists need little or no convincing and they are already on board with the conspiracy theory. By the time that one of them is kidnapped and tortured this has moved from an exploration of themes to a propaganda piece that we have all been duped. I do not think the writing is without merits. There is some crisp dialogue within it but I needed those journalists to be more dramatically employed; we need a sceptic.

All six actors are clearly committed to this piece. The standard of acting is high with Jim Allan, in particular catching my eye. As the journalists Alan Clark and Rhona Law have difficulties as far as I am concerned before we even begin but carry off their performances well. The shadowy underworld of international espionage gives us Brian Paterson struggling in the straitjacket of a cardboard hard man whilst the wit and dry humour of Craig Murray’s Bruce Freemantle does convince.

The use of damaged aircraft seats as set was highly imaginative in the way that they are used and the visual metaphor of a crash sight works well. It reminds us that this continues to haunt us as well as gives us the constant reminder that we have not always handled things well.

I have been waiting for a play about Lockerbie that gives us some decent questions. I don’t believe one with answers is what we need. As it is I have seen three full of answers but not finding how the relevant questions ought to be asked. There is the lack of a third or even second view at times with people simply accepting what they are told as gospel. It is this lack of drama that haunts me.

I have to say though that I did really like this piece and it stands, for me, as the first time we have started to find ways of dramatising the events rather than indulging in agit prop. We need more of this type of vehicle if theatre is going to respond to the tragedy properly. It has certainly left me thinking but I had to rid myself of some of the issues with it first.

It is a piece that has a great deal of merit with performances that were good, a set that worked and a train of thought that may well be close to the truth. The use of violence though didn’t convince me or the underworld security figures as it began to feel sensationalised. I need cold hard evidence and facts – perhaps what Camp Zeist should have put more faith in 25 years ago…