By Andy Arnold
Bowie Community Theatre has a hit on its hands with Deborah Brevoort’s The Women of Lockerbie. The play, which opened March 1, explores international affairs, and the depths of grief, faith, hatred, and love. The drama offers no easy answers.
Director Estelle Miller set out to direct a Greek tragedy. But instead of one protagonist, she introduces six. The Scots on the ground when Pan Am 103 exploded were as victimized as the surviving family members of the passengers and crew on the plane. Folks on both sides of the Atlantic had to attempt to make peace with an awful crime. Some took steps. Another, Madeline Livingstone (Dianne Hood), the mother of a young man who disintegrated when the bomb exploded directly beneath his seat, has gone nearly mad with grief in the years since the bombing. (Note: The Lockerbie Bombing occurred in 1988. This play is set eight years after the bombing in 1996.)
The audience does not see much of Maddie. She is spending the cool night roaming the hills of Lockerbie looking for the remains, or a fragment, of her son. Or is she just looking for a place to store her grief, as one character suggests? Her “If I had just” blaming of herself is good acting, but the character and her self-pity are annoying. When Maddie finally accuses her husband of not loving their son, one thinks she has gone crazy.
Maddie’s husband, Bill (Bill Bodie), hasn’t felt like he has had time to grieve in the years since the bombing. He had to keep life going for both of them. Bill had to talk to reporters camped on the Livingstone lawn. Bill had to return their son’s Christmas gifts in 1988. Bill had to talk to the neighbors. Bill watched Maddie cry an ocean of tears every night for the past seven years. He hoped bringing Maddie to the 7th-anniversary mourning in Lockerbie would bring closure. Instead, she stormed out in the middle of the service. Bill became numb.
George Jones (Brendan Perry) is excellent as a low-level State Department wonk. He is a by-the-book bureaucrat who follows the rules, until his cleansing. Look for his “Hate won’t win in Lockerbie” moment.
Olive Allison (Darice Clewell), the first woman (Anne Hull), second woman (Linda Pattison) and Hattie (Carole Long), the women of Lockerbie, are also protagonists. Each lost loved ones on the ground when parts of the plane, bodies and body parts rained down on their homes and properties. They spent years attempting to recover. Their nights are lonely and faithless, but that faith returns with the sunny rays of the next morning. Theirs is a battle to replace the hatred for those responsible for the crime with love. They are not always successful. But they are wonderful in their roles and accents.
Eventually, Olive and Maddie have some alone time and share their grief. Maddie blames everyone for her loss. Olive finally cracks. She hates Americans since the explosion was aimed at America for bombing Libya in 1986. Everyone knows that, in her part of the world at least. Now that Olive has the chance to beat one whiny American, she takes full advantage of it.
The beating begins a metamorphosis in Maddie. She listens to stories from the women of Lockerbie and empathizes. The women of Lockerbie have been through hell too. They are also grieving. Maddie joins them in a plan to help love and kindness beat hate. You have to watch the play to see what the plan is and if it works.
Running Time: Approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes, with no intermission.