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The Bombing of the Grand Hotel

  • Theatre, Fringe
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

A play about the relationship between the perpetrator of the bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton in 1984 and one of his victims.

It says a lot about the popularity of Maggie Thatcher that she features in just one, minute-long scene in this new play about the attempt made on her life in Brighton in 1984. It’s a smart move on the part of Wildspark Theatre and director Paul Hodson, who instead focus on the relationship between IRA bomber Patrick Magee (played by Ruairi Conaghan) and Jo Berry (Rachel Blackman), whose father – Tory MP Anthony Berry – was among five killed in the blast. Plummy, kaftan-wearing Jo may not be classic heroine material, but she’s a damn sight more relatable than the Iron Lady.

After a bitty first half that concentrates on Magee’s involvement with the IRA leading up to the attack, the play’s emotional heft comes just after the interval as, 16 years on from the bombing, Magee and Berry finally meet. This 20-minute scene starts off resembling the world’s most awkward first date, as the pair nervously small-talk their way around a particularly grim elephant in the room. The chemistry between the pair is both bizarre and compelling, and by the end they’re euphoric, doing philosophical somersaults as they seek to reconcile blame, guilt and forgiveness with senses of personal and political duty.

The bare-bones staging may be a touch unambitious and the ensemble – as sundry firemen and soldiers – tend to overact, but there’s warmth and hope aplenty in this keenly observed examination of a truly unique relationship.


£18, £16 concs
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