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New Play Investigates De Menezes Tube Shooting

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The shooting of innocent Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes by London Metropolitan police provides the inspiration for a new political drama, Oh Well Never Mind Bye, which premieres this month at the fringe Union Theatre in Southwark, south London, not far from where De Menezes died, at Stockwell Tube station, in 2005.

In the wake of the “7/7” terrorist bombings on two London Underground trains and a bus on 7 July 2005, police were hunting down four suspects involved in a subsequent failed bombing. They mistook De Menezes for a terrorist and, having following him from Brixton to Stockwell Tube station, shot him at close range in the head. His death led to widespread protests over the police’s apparent “shoot to kill”, two investigations, police fines and the resignation of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair. An inquest into the shooting, concluded in December 2008, recorded an open verdict as to whether the killing was unlawful.

Stephen Lally’s new play, which runs at the Union from 16 June to 4 July 2009 care of Upstart Theatre company, is based on extensive research into the case, including interviews with members of the De Menezes family, senior police officers and former employees of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Set in the offices of a fictional newspaper in the days before and after the shooting, Oh Well Never Mind Bye explores issues of distortion and bias in the media and questions news reporting's tendency to prioritise speed over accuracy. The characters face ethical dilemmas as conflicting stories begin to emerge and the ugly truth of what really happened that day at Stockwell underground station comes to light.

As well as the many interviews conducted by the company, a series of workshops was presented at the Oval House Theatre in February 2006. The production has the full support of the Justice4Jean Campaign, which was founded by De Menezes’ friends and family immediately after his death with the aim of revealing the truth about his killing and bringing those responsible for his death to justice.

Yasmin Khan, spokesperson for Justice4Jean, will be on the panel at a post-show discussion on press night, 18 July. Playwright Stephen Lally, drama academic Pedro de Senn and journalists Brendan Montague and Mike Rowbottom will also be present.


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