It’s said that people remember exactly where they were on the day of certain major global events, such as the Kennedy assassination, Diana’s car crash, or (possibly) Thatcher resigning. It’s a sobering thought that when A-level students decided to create a piece of drama about 9/11 thirteen years after the event, they were unlikely to have strong personal memories of this catastrophe. Inevitable is the result, therefore, of a lot of research carried out by young people who wished to demonstrate that the effects of that day continue to reverberate, especially among the families directly affected.
The portrayal of the severed relationships between the survivors and the deceased gives this piece the most emotional impact.
Using three separate scenarios from real life stories, we are taken through the day as a projection of a digital clock moves us backwards and forwards in time. The drama centres around three men: Rick Rescorla (who rescued 2700 colleagues), New York Fire Chief Peter Ganci, and Ben Hamilton, an employee in the South Tower. After a brief exposition in which we meet their loved ones, the cast acts out the drama as the towers are attacked, mainly using sound effects. Although described as ‘devised’ this show often feels more like a drama class improvisation. But that, after all, is exactly how it began; this is not a blockbuster movie.
The portrayal of the severed relationships between the survivors and the deceased gives this piece the most emotional impact. Three surviving characters write a letter to their dead loved ones who then read it. This is followed by the line, “Can you see me?” The implication is that while we haven’t forgotten the political impact of the events that day, the personal stories also continue. Ian McEwan wrote, on September 15, 2001, how the words “I love you” spoken into mobile phones were the anguished words of defiance against the murderers. Lotte Lijesen, playing Ben Hamilton’s wife, Cathy (who discovered she was pregnant that fateful day) demonstrates this poignantly. She listen to Ben’s last voice message every day, describing it as “unresolved, a time capsule of memory.”
At the close of the work, we move away from the drama and are told about how this piece was brought together, with other facts beyond what we’ve seen reiterating the importance of remembrance. While they’re not bringing an especially fresh insight into the events and repercussions of 9/11, these students have created something which they felt was significant enough to move out of the classroom and bring up to the Fringe. They should be applauded for their efforts.