The sub-title of Rupert Goold’s 9/11 theatrical cocktail is simple enough: “Two towers, ten years, 20 plays.” And his three-hour production for Headlong, conceived and developed with Robert Icke, produced in association with Chichester Festival Theatre, brings that momentous day alive in a number of ways.
Although there are one or two structural devices to keep the show on the road - three widows meeting in a coffee shop on each anniversary; Pina Bausch-style processional and aggressive choreography (by Scott Ambler); an accumulation of dust on jackets and shoulders - the evening cannot claim the coherent narrative intensity of Enron.
The mood is more meditative and subdued. Partly this is down to the kaleidoscope of voices, and partly to the fact that the show is divided between recreating the shocking poetry of the event and the spin-off into some very good diversions: Beth Steel’s portrait of the American female torturer of Abu Ghraib; Christopher Shinn’s encounter between a psychoanalyst and her patient; or Simon Schama’s disclaimer that professors “historicise” while people “remember.”
The old exchange floor in an office building in St Katharine Docks by the Tower of London has been converted by designer Miriam Buether into the anodyne sky-high haven of the Windows on the World (“Roast beef hash with poached or fried egg $9.25,” but no service, alas) with its stunning views of the Hudson River and the Empire State Building.
Along the top runs a corridor with large windows: these serve as a poignant cage for office workers, the cockpit of one of the aeroplanes, or the walkway for visitors at Ground Zero. After the tours, Ella Hickson gives us the chilling sight of a Panamanian lothario passing himself off as an Arab and picking up susceptible tourists for sex.
The bodies of the women are left spread-eagled on their chairs. The evening starts with Lynn Nottage’s “normal day” sketch in a neighbourhood store with racial undertones, thrums with Adam Cork’s rumbling sound score, and ends with a litany of last minute text messages in a babel of despair.