Lee Harvey Oswald - A Far Mean Streak of Independence Brought On by Negleck

Michael Hastings
Finborough Theatre

Lee Harvey Oswald

Fifty years ago this very month, Lee Harvey Oswald was responsible for one of the defining moments of the twentieth century. In one moment, he changed world history as surely as Gavrilo Princip who killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, thus triggering events that would lead to the carnage of the Great War.

Ever since the assassination of John F Kennedy, people have been trying to analyse the motivations of the murderous maverick who killed him, as surely as others have worked to undermine or enhance the reputation of his presidential victim.

Perhaps the pick of the fictional bunch is Don Delillo whose novel Libra really gets under the skin of a psychotic eccentric.

In 1966, Michael Hastings, who is best known for Tom and Viv, penned this psychological drama, for the most part viewing Oswald through the eyes of his wife and mother.

The framing device is the Commission, collectively represented by an ironic Patrick Poletti, which interrogated these two ladies in an effort to discover the truth behind the historic events.

Gemma Lawrence makes Russian wife Marina a convincing witness, recalling the erratic behaviour of a man whom she met and married in Minsk, prior to a return to his homeland.

Affection is overcome once the couple plus infant baby are obliged to stay with cloying Mrs Oswald senior, a woman in denial who will believe every conspiracy theory under the sun rather than accept that her boy might alone have planned to kill Kennedy then carried though his scheme. For whatever reason, Hilary Tones was still struggling to master this part by opening night.

As the women are interrogated, their experiences are relived in flashback, with Adam Gillen smouldering in the leading role as his character fails to overcome his social impotence and becomes increasingly unhinged. Whether Oswald was a loner or under the control of others, possibly the FBI or CIA, remains very deliberately shrouded in mystery.

To commemorate the actual event, the final performance will commence at 12:30PM on 22 November, 50 years to the minutes after Lee Harvey Oswald killed John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

This version of the Oswald story is long on words and can drag through 2¼ hours, despite the efforts by director Alex Thorpe to enliven proceedings.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher