JOYCE MCMILLAN on HATE RADIO at the Arches, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 17.3.14.
5 stars *****
IT’S THE KIND of show you might expect to see at the Edinburgh International Festival; yet here it is, playing a two-night run at the Arches, as part of this year’s Behaviour season. Created by the Berlin and Zurich-based International Institute Of Political Murder – a theatre company that specialises in exposing crimes against humanity – Hate Radio is a relentless 110-minute expose of the role of a single radio station, RTLM or Radio Television Libre Des Milles Collines, in inciting the genocide of almost a million Rwandan Tutsis that took place over a few months in 1994.
The show’s style is in one sense low-key, understated; spoken in French and Hutu with English surtitles, and transmitted to the audience through headsets to capture the quality of radio sound, it begins with filmed testimony from four survivors. Then the screens roll up to reveal a reconstruction of the RTLM studio, and the three broadcasters – two men, one woman – who were eventually prosecuted for their role in the genocide.
What is brilliant about Hate Radio is the way it treads the line between the absolutely normal – the standard, coffee-slurping behaviour of any group of broadcasters working up energy in a studio – and the utterly unthinkable – the horror they are applauding, in the tone of a disc jockey promoting a new star; the combination of sound, action, verbatim text and intense, precise acting is unforgettable. In that sense, it’s a perfect show for a festival about human behaviour observed; yet its significance is so vast that this should not be Scotland’s last chance to see Hate Radio, and to reflect on its meaning.