The Bomb: A theatrical explosion at Tricycle

While Russian President Vladimir Putin supports Iran’s rights to develop nuclear energy, the United States and Israel are clearly not in favour.  Neighbours—and rivals— India and Pakistan have their own stance on their country’s nuclear power.

As we see and hear the current debate on the development of nuclear power, and have witnessed the death and destruction around the world, Nicolas Kent’s “The Bomb” is a good point to refer back to the beginnings—a point when insecurities and hunger for power loomed over countries and its leaders.

A two-part series, the first part called “First Blast: Proliferation” is well scripted and carefully enacted on the stage. It tells the story in five short plays.

“First Blast: Proliferation” examines the state-of-mind of the two scientists in Birmingham with the formula for an atom bomb to the consequences of the atomic explosion the world witnessed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

In “Calculated Risk,” first of the five plays, the story is closer to home. At the Prime Minister’s office, high-level officials are holding talk if Britain should join the nuclear league.

“It’s the next war I have to worry about,” says the British Prime Minister amidst a growing threat from Russia.

The rhetoric in this play revolves around strengthening Britain’s defence and thus “building a bomb to win.”

But while the PM is constantly arguing about the negative consequences and the chances of going “bankrupt financially and morally,” his defence team rigorously try to push the agenda forward.

Perhaps, this could contextualize Britain’s current stand on nuclear power, and the debates, discussions and dilemmas inside 10 Downing Street.  You are compelled to consider.

“First Blast: Proliferation” also has elements of humour: “Seven Joys” and “Little Russians” are satirical and funny.

“Seven Joys” is set in the 40s in Washington as a one-member club. But slowly, this club—an association of countries moving ahead in the nuclear league—starts expanding as other countries like India, Pakistan, Russia, Israel, South Africa and France become a part.

You might as well get confused by the “egg” in this play, which is used as a metaphor for nuclear power.

In “Little Russians” humour comes to play again. The collapse of the Soviet Union, the chaos in Ukraine and a Ukrainian family’s pursuit to sell a missing nuclear weapon in the black market brings the stage to life. Add to that, the set design and subtle sexual innuendo, which makes the play interesting.

But for me, one of the most prominent plays of the five, is “Option.”  Set in India, it discusses the pros and cons of the nation rooted in Gandhi’s values.

After China’s first nuclear test in 1964, India feels “under compulsion” to join the league but it would “not be the first one to use nuclear weapons.”

What is striking in this play are the characters: everything from their accent to appearance are in coordination. For someone like me who belongs to that region, I could have overanalysed the script and its portrayal on stage. But oddly enough, I watched in appreciation.

By the end of the two-hour play, you go home not only thinking about the play but carry a lot of questions with you: the most important one being why, after such death and destruction, do governments spend billions on nuclear power?

Though the plays are short and to-the-point, they make the audience think, re-think and analyse the current situation—and that’s what plays like this one at political theatres like Tricycle is doing.

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One thought on “The Bomb: A theatrical explosion at Tricycle

  1. […] and it indeed did, with its new play, The Bomb – a partial history,  an explosive device of political theatre that is presented in two parts (First Blast: Proliferation and Second Blast: Present […]

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