Scotsman review: A powerful and persuasive play about the Lockerbie bombing – and the subsequent investigation – at The Alman, Alloa, is as well researched as any documentary, Joyce McMillan finds.
THE quotation marks around the title are significant, for like many who have investigated the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the writer of this powerful new play does not believe that the late Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the only man convicted following the bombing, was guilty as charged.
Although the characters are fictional – two bereaved parents, two journalists, a CIA man, an MI5 man – the play is as well-researched as any documentary about this case and even more disturbing in its impact.
If Kenneth H Ross’s treatment of the material has a flaw, it lies in his melodramatic account of the fate of one of the journalists working on the story at the time of Megrahi’s death. There is a torture scene involving the woman journalist, in which the CIA man, played with intensity and presence by Brian Paterson, dwindles from an interesting portrait of manipulative power into a caricature of a full-blown psychopath.
Elsewhere, though, the structure of the play is powerful and persuasive, as Ross traces how the unanswered questions about Lockerbie, and the subsequent trial, continue to haunt Scottish society. The acting is impressive and heartfelt, and there is a clever set, placing two pairs of burned-out airline seats against a backdrop of the Scottish Parliament lobby.
In the end, it’s the tragedy of the terrible loss of life at Lockerbie that seems to drive Ross’s important and passionate play. That, and the sense that Scotland must finally deliver real justice to the bereaved, or carry scars deep in its body politic that will damage our national life for generations to come.
By Joyce McMillan