Stockwell @ Landor Theatre, London

cast includes
Helen Worsley, Brendan Foster, Alex Tanner, Will Irvine and Jack Klaff

directed by
Sophie Lifschutz

Kieron Barry’s play uses verbatim dialogue from the inquest into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, the 27 year old electrician who was gunned down at Stockwell tube station. Told with a cast of eight playing 30 different characters, it examines the police surveillance operation on the day of his death.

On the previous day, 22nd July 2005, there had been further attempted tube bombings, and this contributed to a long list of blunders and miscommunications that led to de Menezes being shot nine times.

The police’s target had in fact been Hussain Osman who was eventually found guilty of placing explosives at Shepherd’s Bush tube station. De Menezes had the unfortunate luck of living in the same block of flats as Osman and due to an unclear image of the bomber circulated by the police, was mistaken for him.

The communication between Scotland Yard and the officers following de Menezes was also incredibly poor and the confirmation that the Brazilian was in fact the intended target seems also never to have been given.

The main issue I have with Stockwell as theatre is its clinical feel. This is due to the fact that the play is drawn solely from the transcripts of the inquest. While the play is successful in its communication of the catalogue of errors that subsequently lead to the death of an innocent man, if fails to highlight the overwhelming affect his death must have had on the people and community around him.

It’s as if the death itself is being treated as an item of evidence and we are never given the opportunity to fully appreciate the gravity of the police’s mistakes, the fact that a young man lost his life.

Even though members of his family were featured in the play, it was only briefly and it’s a shame that their response and reaction to the police’s mistakes were never explored. As a result Sophie Lifschutz’s production sometimes feels overly long and is at times particularly un-engaging. The script could really benefit from some further exploration into the feelings and consequences surrounding his death and the result of the inquest.

Helen Worsley’s performance as Cressida Dick (the commander in charge of the operation) was, without doubt, the strongest of the cast. Jack Klaff also does a good job playing the councillor to the de Menezes family.

While Barry has done well in his condensing of the entire ten-week inquest into a fluid 90 minute play, the results only really work on one level, in their presentation of the evidence. But while I did leave the small Landor theatre (itself a short walk from Stockwell station) with a greater understanding of the errors that led to de Menezes’ death, I also left wishing the play had spread itself further, had tried to do and say more than it did.

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