Columbinus

This play explores the events leading up to and during the day of 20th April 1999, when two teenagers murdered thirteen of their fellow students at Columbine High School and then killed themselves.

The play opens some time before the killings. We see the common experiences of all the students, victims and killers, being woken by their parents, having breakfast, setting off to school, meeting friends and leading completely normal lives. As we are shown more of their activities at school we begin to recognise the different personalities and the backgrounds of the various students, and particularly of the killers. We see that one of them is very much a loner, though not completely so. He almost takes a girl to the high school prom but her mother refuses to let her go with him. Would events have been different if he’d had a girlfriend? The other reads a story to his creative writing class, glorifying violent murder. Should this have been seen as a warning sign? In the end the two killers only have each other.

The two have no trouble making a large quantity of pipe bombs and in amassing a huge arsenal of weapons. The father of one of them even takes a phone call from a gun dealer and doesn’t realise its significance. They keep everything in one of their bedrooms but the boy’s parents never notice. They also make video tapes explaining what they are planning to do, but again nobody sees these until after they have died.

The massacre itself is shown using actual statements made by survivors and from the tape recordings made by emergency services. These are, by far, the most moving scenes.

This is a very moving and thought-provoking production. Why do two people from such a prosperous society feel so much rage and hopelessness? Why is it so easy to get hold of weapons in the USA? Even after so many school and college killings, there is, unfortunately, still no prospect of gun control.

Reviews by Alan Chorley

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The Blurb

20 April 1999. Columbine High School. 13 dead, plus the two killers. This sensitive docudrama illuminates the disturbing realities of adolescent culture by examining this tragic event. A portrait of the rage that puts our children at risk.

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