There is no doubt that Decade, Headlong’s collaborative theatrical response to 9/11, reaches moments that are powerfully affecting, even for those with no direct ties to the event. The strongest of these in Decade are where we see the butterfly effect in action; the ripples that change the course of someone’s life, years after the event.
We witness a woman engaged in an increasingly manic speed dating event, plagued both by eczema and a need for security and strength, ultimately unable to commit as she is unable to let go of her husband who died. A group of survivor wives meet every year at a coffee shop within sight of the Ground Zero. The audience are shown the scenes in reverse; a tricksy device suffers from the law of diminishing returns in its final scenes but does function as a powerful reminder of the long shadow cast by 9/11. The wives are unable to grieve in any understandable way, holding on to brittle bonds artificially-forged in the tragedy; held together by a sense of duty and continually reinforced by the sight of presidential candidates solemnly appearing at the site as part of carefully stage-managed campaigns.
Also outstanding is Tobias Menzies portrayal of a man recollecting his account of watching the Tower’s collapse after booking the day off. The audience’s awareness of events lends Menzies’ flat affectless delivery a heart-breaking quality. As we hear, with an Alan Bennett like focus on the absurdity in the mundane, a description of the day before and an ensuring phonecall to the office just after a plane hit the first time, there is a tragic inevitably in the growing awareness there won’t be Hollywood happy endings. Later we find that as a result of his experiences he has edged close to the ‘Truther’ movement; desperately trying to find meaning in his unanswered questions.
Not everything was crafted so successfully, a muscular, Mamet-ish duologue between journalist and a soldier involved in the death of Osama Bin Laden, began promisingly with the conversation hurled across the audience in staccato bursts reminiscent of machine-gun fire. However the contrivance of building a link to a relative who died in the Pentagon began to pull the characters apart at the seams and strain credulity. Continue Reading Here