Official histories say that President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on 22 November 1963 by Lee Oswald firing from the Book Depository overlooking Dealey Plaza, a sole killer operating alone, as determined by the Warren Commission of 1964, but there have been many who question the truth of this, placing him elsewhere at the time or putting forward a variety of conspiracy theories with or without his involvement.
In 1968, a book was published in France called L'Amerique Brule (America Is Burning) under the pseudonym James Hepburn which some said to have been the work of French Intelligence. It refuted the report of the Warren Commission and pointed a finger at corporate and banking interests, military bigwigs, mafia bosses and others who saw Kennedy as a threat to their interests, as conspirators in Kennedy’s killing.
However, the programme for this production identifies the dramatist James Hepburn as a female lawyer and her play, here getting its première production, takes the American political story from the 1930s right into the 21st-century with the destruction of the World Trade centre Twin Towers on 11 September 2001.
We, Macbeth is a catalogue of political intervention by the rich and powerful revealed by characters Hepburn calls Allen Dulles and James Jesus Angleton. Allen Dulles (played by David Middleton) was a diplomat and banker and Director of Central Intelligence, and incidentally a member of the Warren Commission. He died in 1969. James Jesus Angleton (Marco Aponte) was the chief of the CIA’s counter-intelligence staff. He died in 1987.
Other characters presented include Richard Helms (John-Paul Brennan), who served under Dulles and later himself became Director of Central Intelligence (in 1977 he was convicted of misleading Congress), John Dean (Ernest Gromov), involved in the Watergate hush-up, and Bob Woodward (Marek Hollands), a journalist who won awards for his coverage of Watergate and the 9/11 attacks.
Other characters include George Bush Senior (Clive Alexander) and his Vice-President Dick Cheney (Michael Dickinson), George Bush Junior (Ernest Gromov) and Bill Clinton (Manos Koutsis), who doesn’t seem to be part of the same gang as the others.
Since Dulles and Angleton were dead by the time of some of the actions, this play has them master-minding what happened. Presumably we are not expected to take it entirely literally but rather as a sort of metaphor for the way in which the American people have been pawns in the hands of the rich and powerful.
There is even a terrible plausibility in the idea that the “terrorist” attack on the Twin Towers was part of a cunning plot to benefit corporate fat cats and the armaments industry, creating a new demon enemy when the Communist bloc no longer played that role.
The proudly presented revelations from sinister figures of US government and administration are presented as a serious of episodes being recorded by typist Clarence (Daniela Jackson). She provides a voice to question their actions and voices the concerns of the ordinary citizen, while the American public at large are represented by a man and a woman (Edward Cima and Elizabeth Gibson) who sit bound and gagged until released to chant exactly the claptrap their masters want to hear.
Hepburn gives us a succession of could-bes. She does not provide hard evidence for her conjectures but there is a truth about the ruthlessness of power and a plausibility about these political manipulations that is chillingly disturbing: the conspiracies of riches and reaction not just ghosts but still with us.
George Eugeniou stages it simply. At first his figures are masked but, once uncovered, the presentation is concise and clear, even if you don’t know the histories of the men who carry the same names as the characters. His cast give some of the strongest performances I have seen at Theatro Technis, especially Middleton’s Dulles, Aponte’s Angleton, Dickinson’s Cheney and Koutsis’s laid-back Clinton.
Reviewer: Howard Loxton