The Women of Lockerbie
The townspeople of Lockerbie, Scotland, were going about their daily business one day in 1988 when tragedy literally fell from the sky. Overhead, passing airline Pam Am Flight 103 was torn apart by a planted bomb, which caused debris and bodies, and horror and sorrow, to rain upon the small, quiet town below.Playwright Deborah Brevoort’s powerful drama The Women of Lockerbie gives unique insight into the rippling effects of a terrorist act upon the survivors—both the families of those who were lost and the local witnesses who dealt with the aftermath of the tragedy.
The story is placed seven years after the incident and centers on two elements—the visit of grief-stricken parents looking for answers to the death of their 20-year-old son who was flying home to the United States for the holidays, and the village women trying to save the deceased airline passengers’ clothes and belongings that were doomed to be destroyed as soiled evidence. The women strongly believed that giving survivors physical remains in the form of found clothes and personal effects of their loved ones would help in the healing process.
Brevoort presents the play as a Greek tragedy, complete with dramatic interludes and a townspeople Greek chorus. She tackles tough subjects such as grief and sorrow, anger and denial, sadness and hope. Though most of her dialogue is beautifully written, there are times the language and sentiment veers toward mawkishness, though she and the current production at California Stage successfully manage to avoid it.
Penny Meagher’s strong directorial touch keeps the sentiment of the production from dipping into sentimentality. The set is impressive, using the large, expansive theater area formerly known as The Space to depict a panoramic scene of green and craggy Highlands, complete with a running stream.
But what makes The Women of Lockerbie memorable is the fine performances from actors dealing with delicate material, most notably Georgann Wallace and Jeff Webster as parents grieving in such different ways, Eric Baldwin as the bureaucratic bad guy and the cast of Lockerbie women who bring heart and soul to the show.