Stockwell

Kieron Barry (edited from the court transcripts)
Tricycle Theatre
(2009)

Publicity iamge

Stockwell – an intense and thrilling courtroom drama; except rather more disturbingly this isn't a drama, it is real life.

A piece of verbatim theatre taken from the transcripts of the Jean Charles de Menezes inquest, this is a story that needs little explanation as we all followed it in the news in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings in London, reading with shock and disbelief that an innocent man (who was believed by intelligence to be a terrorist) had been shot nine times by the police at Stockwell tube station.

Eight actors superbly take on the role of thirty people (lawyers, police, surveillance officers, eye witnesses and family and friends). It initially fells like a staged documentary, repeating that what we already know; however as the piece unfolds and you listen to the facts of the case in this 90-minute drama, you are drawn into this incredibly tense and disturbing piece of theatre.

It was two specialist firearms officers who fired the shots that killed de Menezes, but there were an abundance of mistakes that led to that moment, placing the blame on many heads. Why hadn't the surveillance team watching the property where de Menezes lived realised it was a block with a communal entrance rather than a house with a private entrance? They thought it suspicious when he got off the bus by Brixton tube station only to get on another bus to Stockwell. What they failed to notice was that Brixton tube station was closed that day. Communication between C019, operation room staff and surveillance officers was completely shambolic as messages were misinterpreted and in some instances not even received. And probably most shocking of all is why when the firearms officers boarded the tube did they not state that they were police, leaving eyewitnesses momentarily thinking that the police were the bad guys (I know: it's ironic, isn't it?)

Of course, as the firearms officers and other members of the police point out that when it is broken down it is easy to point out the many mistakes occurred but this operation took place at a frenzied pace. However as the confused counsel for the de Menezes family, Mr Mansfield (Jack Klaff) questions in his deliciously dry and patronising manner, why was it so frenzied and not a more slick and controlled operation?

This production is simply and sensitively handled and whilst you leave the theatre in no doubt that the police are entirely to blame for this wrongful killing (even though they remain resolute that the mistakes weren't theirs) you can't help but feel empathy for the two men that fired the shots and what they'll live with for the rest of their lives. Of course the greatest sympathy lies with Jean Charles de Menezes and his friends and family who speak of how he'd previously praised the police and was completely trustful that the police would keep him safe.

Playing until September 20th 2009

Amy Yorston reviewed the original production at the Landor Theatre

Reviewer: Rachel Sheridan