Daily Archives: August 19, 2010

Lockerbie: Unfinished Business

THEATRE
Lockerbie: Unfinished Business
Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14)
4 stars ****

IT’S 22 YEARS since the terrible night, just before Christmas 1988, when Pan Am Flight 103 fell from the sky above the Borders town of Lockerbie, killing 270 people; yet still, the shock-waves from that explosion ripple on, through British and global politics.   In David Benson’s new solo show about the unfinished story of the Lockerbie bombing, he adopts the character of Jim Swire, the Worcestershire GP who became the leading British voice of the victims’ families, after his 24-year-old daughter Flora died in the bombing; and who still campaigns today for the truth to be told about the Lockerbie case, and for justice to be done.

There is nothing fancy about Benson’s show: it’s delivered in the style of a brusque, forensic lecture, with projected images, about the state of the evidence.  It’s not that Swire’s grief and anger over his daughter’s death is suppressed, in this version of the story; the character Benson creates is far too intelligent a man not to recognise that his long campaign is in part a way of coping with the crushing agony of Flora’s loss, and the show uses some desperately poignant real-life recordings of Flora  as a child, over images of her short life.

The heart of the show, though, lies in Swire’s rage at the abject  failure of  British – and Scottish – justice even to try to expose the truth about the bombings.  In meticulous detail, Benson’s script stacks up the detail which suggests that the story of Libyan involvement in the bombing was fabricated, that the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Al-Megrahi was a shocking miscarriage of justice – Swire actually fainted when he heard the guilty verdict – and that the men who probably did murder his daughter have never been brought to justice.  And although the play occasionally loses pace and dramatic edge, and could perhaps be five minutes shorter, there’s no denying its stunning final impact; as it combines a respectful, subtle and profoundly moving performance with a mighty and unanswerable indictment of cover-up and injustice, in a show that every thinking citizen of this country should see, and act upon.

Joyce McMillan
Until 30 August
p.267

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