Terrorism, a pre-9/11 black comedy penned by the Presnyakov Brothers, follows the consequences of an airport bomb-scare, asking if lost luggage is any less explosive than the real thing.
As the premise suggests, the physical act of terror never arrives it is deferred, external to the ostensible threat. As such this production is less about insurgency than social neuroses and their psychological footing. We toe the causal path through its peaks and troughs; we witness disproportionate outbursts in everyday situations; unaccountable but given the climate accessible prejudices; the emptiness of fascination, morbid or erotic. Tumbling dominoes never fail to compel, but we sense a contrary and equally enthralling motive where the effects can be said to pre-exist their causes.
On the whole therefore, the writing is solid. There are some clichd, even tedious exchanges which may be mere matters of translation; in any case, they are forgivable when the surrounding text is challenging and so acutely observed. There are certainly no revelations here, but the juxtaposition and assimilation of everyday life with panic is affective and poses some stimulating questions.
Martin Berry has pursued a minimalist and generalising style which avoids positing the action at any specific place or time; scenes are delineated verbally, a surtitle in chalk on a blank, black wall. Of course, we are invited to fill in the gaps ourselves, to furnish the empty stage with our own particulars. It is a device invariably employed in theatre, but rarely does it fit the quintessence of a text so neatly.
This poverty of setting seems to swell other aspects of the play. There is a great deal of talent on display, despite a tendency toward melodrama which, albeit rarely, exceeds its self-reflexive remit. Georgina Edwards is one who finds an appropriate balance, her nervous energy carrying an opening scene which could otherwise seem a little too contrived; despite apocalyptic decibels, Aleksandra Everitt manages to be utterly convincing.
Indeed, the overall volume of the production may attests to the casts sheer enthusiasm, but the subtler humour bitter and dry is too often drowned out. This lack of overall balance prevents Terrorism from truly shining. A previous incarnation at the Royal Court, was described as a dazzling farce. Berrys conception is clever, thats for sure, and funny but a tweak here and there would make it so much more so.