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Theatre Review Blunt Drill fails to penetrate core of terrorism fears

The Drill                            
Battersea Arts Centre, London                    

A CRITICAL exploration of our anxieties about terrorism and the big question of what each of us would do in a crisis could make for a gripping hour in the theatre.

But this mixed-media piece from Breach Theatre, addressing some challenging ideas, is more workshop than narrative. Occasionally raised by “experts” in video clips and then left hanging, the result is amorphous and unsatisfying.

It’s those self-appointed experts who create the problem at the heart of the piece. The private companies offering courses in tackling shooters or identifying potential terrorists and even explosive devices are creating a market based on increasing our fears.

As one of the Action Man stereotypes says, “Our courses are aimed at the commercial sector.” Of course they are, they’re designed to make money. And they do not dispel fear at all, why would they?

Closer scrutiny of this troubling contemporary angst might have given The Drill more of an edge and though the cast of Ellice Stevens, Amarnah Amuludun and Luke Lampard are confident and show promise, the personal stories they tell of lost loves and fragile relationships add little to any central message.

Yes, fate is a devil — it can get people shot or deliver up a dreadful love life. For the dramatic juxtaposition of such issues, perhaps a bigger and more expansive piece would work more effectively. A genuinely intriguing thought is somewhat lost here — the suggestion that what terrorists do is “theatre.” Their concern is not so much with the loss of life but with creating a pageant which communicates a powerful message.

Tackling that issue in a workshop would be excellent and a debate instigated by this mash-up of questions would be well worth having, but, as theatre, The Drill is very much a work in progress.

Runs until February 17, box office: bac.org.uk

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