Verbatim theatre: I used to have my doubts about this form of theatre because while the intentions may be worthy it could make for a dull evening; and however verbatim the material it is still edited and therefore subject to agenda-ising, if I can coin that word. Then a couple of years ago I saw Stockwell at the Tricycle Theatre, the verbatim account of the inquest into the killing of Jean Charles Menezes, a Brazilian electrician who happened to bear a vague resemblance to a man the police suspected of planting one of the bombs that failed to explode in July 2007, who they followed onto the tube at Stockwell Station and shot dead, several times.
It was one of the most powerful (hate the word but there’s no proper alternative) pieces of theatre I have ever seen. Wonderfully performed, edited with what looked like real balance, it not only went some way to explaining how such a tragedy of Greek proportions came about, it was intensely moving. Now the Tricycle Theatre, who almost invented verbatim theatre, is focusing on the riots of August this year. And in a remarkably short time the writer Gillian Slovo (interesting choice), commissioned by the theatre’s Artistic Director Nicholas Kent, has come up with her own balanced version of events. I am only sorry it is on for such a short time.