The Truth and Reconciliation Courts of enquiry into what went wrong between people, and how they lived with the consequences, came out of the apartheid years in South Africa.
debbie tucker green has taken this phenomenon to produce a slow burn workshop play using the language of simmering resentment and bafflement at various times in recent history: in South Africa, Bosnia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Northern Ireland.
The witnesses and plaintiffs cross fade into each other in an oval committee room of stiff-backed chairs, a burnt out floor and chalk testimonials to the victims on the seats of the audience.
As each scene comes round, the location is lit up on a board across one end of the theatre. The author directs, which is not necessarily a good idea, and not in this case: a very short play – just 65 minutes long – seems to last for ever.
But I liked the awkwardness of the encounters, the menace of the questioning: Do they know we are coming? Who is the father of the child? Was he crying? And the cast of twenty-one actors rotate their particular stories with panache and efficiency.
Most notable, perhaps, are Cecilia Noble as a grandmother who refuses to take a seat, Ivanno Jeremiah as a sullen, guilty party in the Rwandan massacres and Clare Cathcart as an aggressive Northern Irish mother of a possibly murderous son she feels no need to apologise for.
The event hovers in that strange limbo between tribunal and theatre, neither one nor the other, and everyone’s story, you feel, has the potential of exploding onto a higher dramatic plane.
Designer Lisa Marie Hall miraculously makes you feel you’ve never been in this attic venue before – I’ve been going there since it opened over forty years ago -- and there’s notably subtle lighting and sound by Matt Haskins and Gareth Fry.