"If you're going to fight a war by computer you might as well do it in Starbucks.... order a latte ... Sneakers? I hate them."
In This Tuesday, Ben Crowe favours a well-polished shoe, the uniform of those "delegated the task of killing without moral judgement; those permitted to break civilisation's first rule in order to preserve it". With the weekly meeting due on who to kill next, where and when, the military man meditates on the guiding principles of the classics, while others who attend the "Terror Tuesday" security meetings struggle with their own problems.
Maxine's daughter, out of rehab, is on life support after a high-speed crash. She is preparing to lose her, while deciding whether to save the lives of others with organ donation. But she needs to be at the meeting. Jay is arguing with his lover, angry Maxine, about the morality of his job. In the night, she was awake, watching something shocking unfold outside ...
The first of two short plays under the title Drones, Baby, Drones, This Tuesday is written by Christina Lamb, chief foreign correspondent for The Sunday Times, and dramatist Ron Hutchinson. Lamb's first-hand insights into modern warfare coupled with a journalist's honed brevity make for a punchy play that is swift on its feet, darting from scene to scene like a guided missile, and deftly directed by Nicolas Kent, who definitely had on the right shoes for the job.
In the second play, The Kid, by David Greig, a drone pilot and operator are relaxing with their spouses, opening another bottle. As the story of the day's kill spills out with the wine, so too does the news of a pregnancy. A life for a life. But when details of the imperfect kill emerge, the new mother breaks off from nursery decorations plans and devises a dreadful new form of punishment for terrorists. This toxic party is directed with insight by the Arcola's artistic director, Mehmet Ergen.
Each play is prefaced by extracts from the inestimable human rights lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith, calm and shocking revelations about the practices of modern war that need no embellishment. It all adds up to a thought-provoking and necessary scrutiny of the morality of war by remote control. That it left me wanting a third play told from the side of the target proves that it's a stimulating, if short, evening.
Anne Adams as the anxious mother and the drone pilot, Joseph Balderamma as a lawyer and the pilot's loyal husband, Sam Dale as the general and speaking Stafford-Smith's words, Tom McKay as the cheating husband and the drone operator, and Rose Reynolds as the girlfriend and the pregnant mum, turn in compelling performances. Lucy Sierra's design and Richard Williamson's lighting and video sum up the bleakness of hospital, the sinister nature of aerial observation, and the clash between soft furnishings and steely hearts, hard and soft chairs particularly symbolic.
Essentially it boils down to this: is it desirable to wipe out enemies without losing ground troops? Or is drone warfare too unaccountable, too easy? There are no clear-cut answers here, only more questions, and that makes for good drama.
|What||Drones, Baby, Drones review, Arcola Theatre|
|Where||Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street , London, E8 3DL | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Dalston Junction (overground)|
07 Nov 16 – 26 Nov 16, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£10 - £19|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|