Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review (theatre): We Have Fallen at Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61). Review by Billy Barrett
Three isolated narratives meet in this poetic, tightly structured thriller that plays on climate-change denial and post-9/11 anxieties about terrorism. After 12 planes inexplicably fall from the sky at the same time, a hedge fund financier, an aviation expert and an environmental activist travel across Europe and try to piece together the debris, the data and their own fractured lives. Combining lyrical internal monologue with urgent scraps of interaction, the three-hander is starkly staged with just a hurtling starburst of LED lights to visualise the escalating chaos.
Inevitably, the spectres of recent real-life events haunt We Have Fallen; writer Jacqui Honess-Martin has eerily timed the piece to follow a series of high-profile incidents involving commercial flights, and the fall of a 13th plane on a Russian border carries particularly ominous significance. But this is also a story about loneliness and interconnectivity, the strength of the individual and the futility of dissent; hints at a governmental conspiracy are given equal dramatic weighting with the fraught relationship between a mother and her son.
It’s not always easy to follow – the intercut, divergent strands can be difficult to concentrate on simultaneously. But simple direction and strong characterisation mean the piece quickly finds its focus, as each actor draws the audience in with a tender vulnerability and terrific knack for storytelling. By turns terrifyingly believable and totally far-fetched, the overall picture is of a culture in crisis, a family in tatters and an earth-shattering, elusive secret.
Could the laws of physics actually change?
We’re spared “the science bit” but the sums don’t add up, and crash expert Jen’s findings suggest a radical shift in the natural order.
Honess-Martin skilfully cranks up the tension, elevating the action to the level of metaphor whilst keeping us grippingly grounded in the moment.
Until 27 August. Today 2:10pm.
Originally published in The Scotsman