Best New Stage Drama Revisits the Case of Jean Charles de Menezes
The much loved and admired Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn has a reputation for giving audiences the very best in political verbatim drama in London. Stockwell: a gripping, chilling play directed and produced by 25 year old Sophie Liftschutz continues the tradition.
The play chronicles the untimely end of Jean Charles de Menezes’ life on the 22 July 2005, a young Brazilian electrician shot by the police at Stockwell Station in a case of mistaken identity. Like so many miscarriages of justice audiences will find the production a stark reminder that the protectors of society can also be the vanquishers of the innocent.
Stockwell Dramatic Theatre at its Best
An ensemble cast of eight actors play over thirty parts in this powerful stage drama re-enacting the last few hours of the court verdict in the Stockwell inquest.The writer Kieron Barry’s mammoth task collating the court transcripts ( 200 pages a day over ten weeks) and Lifschutz staging of the trial unfolds the story in a way that both touches the emotional gravitas of the victim’s tragedy and the chaos and confusion of the police who clearly lose the plot.
Stockwell’s Superb and Brilliant Staging
The strength of Stockwell is the fluidity of the groupings of the “tribes” which create the conflict in this monumental catalogue of mistakes that lead to the fatal killing of the innocent young man.
Jack Klaff plays Michael Mansfield QC interrogating on behalf of the Menezes family, he also takes composite lines from the other lawyers. Klaff commands the stage with deft authority, holding to account Commander Cressida Dicks (played with an obdurate stance by Helen Worsley) and police officers with ruthless precision.
In the same grouping Kevin Quarmby plays the coroner his clarity of characterisation giving incisive support to fresh information.The other three tribes are the Senior police officers, surveilance officers and specialist firearms officers. Every member of the ensemble cast delivers impeccable performances balanced in the hands of Sophie Lifschutz’s direction which moves the characters like interchanging pieces on a chess board.
The play builds to the penultimate show-down. ” Is it him? Yes it’s Him!” and nine shots fired at point blank range kill a young man no terrorist but terrorised.
A Thought Provoking Play
In the end the marksmen known as only C12 who fires three of the shots ( movingly played by Alex Tanner) shaking with grief declares his remorse. ” I am a family man myself and to lose a son or any member of your family in this situation I just couldn’t believe.”
On 12th December, 2008 the jury returned an open verdict. Leaving the auditorium, this play weighs heavily on the public’s conscience.The collective reasoning for this appaling happening must be attributed to fear, not only of the victim but also of the perpertrators.
Stockwell runs till 20th Sept 2009.