How would you cope in the aftermath of a terrorist attack? That’s what Stuart Slade’s brutally honest play explores through the lives of six very different personalities.
A delicately balanced play that uses humour as a weapon as much as humanising the characters the audience encounter on stage, BU21 follows the lives of six people who struggle to cope after the events of one summer’s day when a plane is shot down from the sky over Fulham.
What makes this production directed by Dan Pick so well presented is the idea that the audience are in fact confidents of each character who takes us on their own very individual journey as they struggle to deal with the outcome of the terrorist attack. The whole vibe of the production from Alex Doidge-Green’s basic and therapy-based set to the haunting lighting by Christopher Nairne is very sombre, but mixed with Slade’s script there is an element of hope among the despair and grief.
Visually, not a lot happens but in this production, the power of words and imagination can not be underestimated – particularly when each character describes in great detail their perspective of the plane crash, making it seem as though we were there alongside them.
The cast are all in vital in ensuring that the story is sensitively brought to life with their own individuality, which thankfully they do. Alexander Forsyth in particular as Alex, stands out with his delivery of black sense of humour that gets uncertain laughter from the audience, confronting them about their own attitudes – particularly in relation to a certain character and stereotyping. Brutally honest and arrogant as a character, Forsyth someone still manages to make him charming.
There is also an excellent performance from Florence Roberts as Floss, who suffers from horrific nightmares after what she witnessed that she struggles to get back to ‘normality’. It is a tender and delicate performance that really shows how bad PTSD can affect your life – such as when she runs away from Clive, she worries that she is going mad. The rest of the cast are also strong and offer a deeply moving portrait of how one traumatic event can affect the rest of your life and attitude towards it.
While ultimately BU21 is a serious piece of drama, the elements of humour make it feel a little bit more humane – even if there are moments towards the end which feel slightly superficial, with references to the “British spirit” and “love is the answer for everything” being slightly obvious in comparison to everything else that had been said.
It could also be said that some of the monologues (which is essentially what the play is made up of) should be slightly trimmed, with Alex’s thoughts and opinions getting a lot of the audience’s attention that at times distracts from the story and occasionally trivialises it.
But overall, BU21 is an essential watch that gets audiences thinking about our reactions to major disasters in a chilling and deeply engrossing way.
BU21 will play at the Trafalgar Studios until the 18th February 2017. To book tickets visit ATG Tickets.