Having given the Royal Court a hit that only required one actress with random
, debbie tucker green cashes in her credit with the theatre with a play that puts 22 actors on the small Upstairs stage for just over an hour, which she also directs. truth and reconciliation
follows the families of victims in five conflicts - Rwanda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Bosnia and Northern Ireland - confronting the people responsible, directly or indirectly, for their loved ones' deaths. What they expect to gain from these meetings none of them are quite sure, and none of the discussions end in either truth or
reconciliation, with one of the perpetrators never even showing up to meet the waiting relatives. Staged in the round in a black room with the locations carved into the walls and the names of victims painted onto the audience's mismatched wooden chairs, the similar chairs the actors sit on form a recurring theme in the dialogue, with the power relationships of who sits where and who stands becoming a fixation for many of the characters. Richard thought this went on longer than he would have liked in such a short play; personally I disagreed and liked the fixation on details that distract from the real discussion that's too big for them to handle. With 22 actors and lots of good performances I'm not going to list everyone but both of us were especially impressed with Pamela Nomvete as the mother of a murdered South African girl, not only when she finally erupts into emotion but in her presence as she stands silently at the side for most of the play.
At the end two of the perpetrators face the ghosts of their victims. There's a stark difference between the assurances they make to the ghosts to ease their own guilt, and how we know they really behaved when confronted with the families. It may only be an hour but it's a densely packed one, and I don't think it would be easy to watch a much longer play of this kind of intensity. As it is, it's a painful but powerful play.truth and reconciliation
by debbie tucker green is booking until the 24th of September at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, and from the 29th of September to the 15th of October at Theatre Local at the Bussey Building, Peckham.