Stuart Slade’s incisive, immersive and intimate play charts the lives of six victims affected by the shooting down of flight BU21. The event shapes and alters their fate as the past and present collide leaving physical, emotional and psychological scars, the lives of the victims forever connected.

Witness statements via monologues segue into dialogue: the survivors’ support group network providing the thread and platform for the neuroses, habits and prejudices of the characters, gradually revealing to each other and the audience more than they knew about themselves.

Memories are confronted, challenged, (mis)remembered and in one case fabricated: an accidental ‘hero’ whose desire to help snowballs into a world of fantasy and exploitation.

Masks and façades adopted eventually crumble and slip, some characters confront their existence and change and progress whilst others lapse back into narcissistic and mendacious behaviour. For some redemption awaits, for others (once a banker always a …) life repeats itself, business as usual. The six actors inhabit and exhibit these (universal) characters and their wrangled foibles with all their being, you ‘feel’ their grief and share their pain and dilemmas.

This is a forensic examination of the human condition provoking age old notions of identity, nationhood and belonging and how fear and paranoia can be manipulated. Crucially it also addresses the pernicious role of the media and authorities who hijack, co-opt and corrupt testimonies for their nefarious means to effect further control of perception (mis)management (e.g brown face and backpack= terrorist = divide and conquer = job done) and to justify increased surveillance and illegal invasions.

My only (minor) gripes would be the reductive nature of the ‘xenophobic Northerner in an England shirt’ and that terrorism is far from a modern occurrence.

Postscript: Is the shot-down Flight BU21 an allegory for ‘Be you to one’ another, that despite/in spite of what(ever) happens, ‘be’ this?

‘BU21’ is at the Trafalgar Studios until 18th February.
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