Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Women of Lockerbie

This appeared in The Davis Enterprise on 1/9/07

“The Women of Lockerbie,” one-act play by Deborah Brevoort, presented by Acme Theater Company at the Veterans Memorial Theater, will grab your attention immediately and hang on tenaciously until the very last scene. Except for a few humorous moments when the audience laughed, you could hear a pin drop throughout the entire 75 minute duration of the piece.

When director David Burmester first read the play, he knew that Acme had to perform it. “Never before have we found a play so timely,” he writes in his director’s notes. “It is not hyperbole, I feel, to hold that terrorism is the single most pervasive political reality of our time. Since September 11, 2001, no one human activity has occupied our political leaders, our media and our lives as has the threat of terrorism.”

Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on December 21, 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 landed on the town as a result of a terrorist bomb. Eleven townspeople were killed when the plane's wings and fuel tanks crashed to earth in a fiery explosion, leaving a huge crater.

Until the September 11, 2001 attacks, the bombing of Flight 103 was the worst act of terrorism against civilian citizens of the United States. The 270 victims (259 on the plane, 11 on the ground) were citizens of 21 nations. Of them, 189 were Americans.

“The Women of Lockerbie” opens in a pre-dawn setting in the hills around Lockerbie. Set design by Victoria Gimpelvich is effective, with a series of platforms arranged to approximate a hillside, and a long piece of cloth which represents a stream running through the hills, a shimmering light on it making it come alive.

John Ramos plays Bill Livingston, who has traveled to Lockerbie with his wife Madeline (Emily Tracy). It is seven years past the tragedy of flight 103 and the Livingstons are visiting the site for the first time. Madeline has been grieving openly for seven years and Bill felt that if she could actually see the place where their son lost his life it might help her to get past the grief.

Madeline abruptly left the memorial service taking place in the town and is roaming the hills looking for her son. Her husband has come to the hills to search for her.

He is joined by Olive Allison (Cami Beaumont) and two women, identified as First Woman (Julieanne Conard) and Second Woman (Kate McFarland), who aid in the search and who attempt to bring peace to Madeline when she finally appears. They share their own experiences of that terrible day when horror rained down on the town, killing some of their own. With Madeline they ask “what if?” questions. What if I hadn’t gone to get petrol that day? What if I had changed the date of my party? What if...? What if...? What if...? Could I have changed the ultimate outcome? Questions that will always remain unanswered in the face of the reality of what happened.

At the same time the United States representative, George Jones (Sean Olivares) has given orders for the warehouse holding all of the items recovered from the crash to be burned, now that the investigation into the incident has ended. The government feels this is the best way to bring closure to the tragedy and help people move on with their lives.

The women of Lockerbie are fighting Jones. The women want to take the clothing stored in the warehouse, wash them, and return them to the relatives of the victims of the tragedy, feeling that the way to combat hatred is not with more hatred, but with love.

Playwright Brevoort has created a gripping story which deals with ordinary people coping with extraordinary horror. As we deal with escalating violence in so many parts of our world, it is good to step back and ask whether fighting hatred with hatred is really the best policy. The gentle strength of the women of Lockerbie suggests that there may be another way.

As director Burmester puts it, “Until we look at the whole, complex set of conditions that result in terrorism, until we stop trying to react to incidents and begin to look at and understand the root causes of the dilemma, until we treat each other with love and respect instead of hate and disdain, terrorism will continue to haunt us at every turning of our lives.”

“The Women of Lockerbie” is a powerful play with a powerful message presented by an amazing group of young people. Everyone is encouraged to check out this play, which runs through November 13 at the Veterans Memorial theater. It will provide much food for thought and discussion.


Anonymous said...

I feel this review is a little vauge. I would be more intrested to hear about the acting specifically. Also you did not mention any production aspect except the set, which is dispointing to those of us who read reviews for your opinion

Anonymous said...

I thought it was interesting that you mentioned every member of the cast except for the girl who played Hattie. Did you feel that her character was irrelevant to the plot?