Known for exercising its passion for political theatre, The Tricycles latest offering comes in the form of mediation on the atomic bomb in a series of short plays put together by nine different writers.
If it sounds disjointed – that’s probably because it is – with the play even falling into two different evenings, with the first half looking at nuclear proliferation since the forties, while the second looks at the present dangers posed by rogue states.
Despite the heavy subject matter, the production does manage to be relatively humorous, with chuckles overheard at various times throughout. Woven together with snippets of newsreel and verbatim testimony, the play is often engaging, but just as equally often tedious in its static production – exasperated by the fact that the quality of the writing differs from excerpt to excerpt. One constant, however, is that it gives a supremely insightful view into some of the controversial views behind one of the most important discussions of our time.
One of the stand out parts of the production is Lee Blessings witty depiction of the arms race as the petty antagonisms which animate a gentleman’s club – explaining a complicated predicament in a simple and relatable way, all the while making a mockery of national stereotypes, while paying heed to their dangers.
Some episodes are more effective and engaging than others, but all acted out particularly well by a versatile cast of 11 who bend and shape shift as often, and as well as the stage does.
The overall premise that is taken away at the end of the night is that the bomb is an endless source of contradiction, one that no amount of thought or effort would ever reach a final conclusion on. What is the point of nuclear weapons if you don’t use them, or hide behind them as a deterrent? This debate is slyly threaded through all of the plays, which vary in length from half an hour to ten minutes and leave their own little bombs to be diffused or ignited within you.
On March 19th 2003 rockets were launched, fighter jets flew overhead and President George W. Bush featured again and again on our television screens, shaking his fists and remaining adamant that Iraq was harbouring “weapons of mass destruction.” For many, our knowledge of nuclear weapons does not go much beyond that. Now does ‘The Bomb’ help enlighten us on this plight? In a word… maybe. It does undoubtedly reveal facets we may not have known otherwise, but, it could also be said that the production does require a relatively detailed and substantial knowledge on history, which –without – may make the production hard to follow and understand.
The production forces viewers to become engagers. Whether you are willing and able to make that leap is up to you.
Photo Credit -Bernard-Hoffman