The Letter of Last Resort

David Greig

Traverse 1

From 04 August 2012 to 26 August 2012

Rating: ****

Review by Philip Fisher

The Letter of Last Resort, (playing alongside Good with People) was first seen as the star contribution to Nicolas Kent’s swansong The Bomb - A Partial History at the Tricycle earlier in the year.

It consists of a fascinating debate that, the script readily admits, owes something of its structuring to Yes, Prime Minister.

On her first day in office some five years into the future, the new Prime Minister played by Belinda Lang is approached by a slightly shady civil servant.

Simon Chandler’s character is required to commission a letter to the commander of a nuclear submarine. This will contain secret instructions as to what action should be taken in the event of a catastrophe that blows Britain out of existence.

This creates a deeply thought-provoking debate about the merits of nuclear defence and the resulting proliferation.

Despite its half-hour running time, The Letter of Last Resort is the kind of play that could give viewers sleepless nights, so well is it written and so intelligent its view of a subject about which there are no definitive answers.