There perhaps could not have been a more timely play than
Its genius is to redeem such occurrences as aeronautical disasters from the meaninglessness of conspiracy-theory and the empty fury of political finger-pointing, by looking at them from the angle of physics.
The show maps the overlapping trajectories of Richard (Oliver J Hembrough), Jennifer (Lydia Larson) and Pam (Barbara Wilshere), whose lives at first seem only tenuously linked by a shared connection to air travel, but who become increasingly implicated in one another’s lives, and tragedies. Though each of their monologues makes sense independently, there are occasional moments where sentences are unintentionally finished, or references made between characters.
What Lucy Sierra and Ziggy Jacobs do with Design and Lighting is simple yet wonderful. Six beams of white LED light stream from the upper left-hand corner of the stage, illuminating the performers whilst eluding definition: are they rays of light? A runway, perhaps? Indeed, this indefiniteness is reflective of the show as a whole, whose strength is in gesturing towards, rather than making explicit its emotional texture; a feature written into Jacqui Honess-Martin’s brilliant script, yet also borne out with particular skill in Wilshere’s subtle performance.
One of the show’s few weaknesses is the patchiness of its research: as it becomes increasingly sci-fi, plot races ahead of science, making the show’s credibility somewhat tenuous. Though it can safely be assumed that your average Edinburgh audience won’t have an encyclopaedic knowledge of aeronautical physics, the overpowering smell of half-baked science distracted from otherwise striking performances in the show’s final moments.
That We Have Fallen should be the recipient of the IdeasTap Underbelly Award is unsurprising: its is both deeply original, and highly topical. It doesn’t simply replay the tragedy of recent events (which would be all to easy), but instead uses them as a launching point to reflect upon the emotional freight borne by human relationships in times of crisis.