Fringe 2018 – “The Women of Lockerbie”
Little Earthquakes Ensemble brings The Women of Lockerbie, Deborah Brevoort’s moving tale of grief and the power of love, to the stage for the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Seven years after the crash of Pan Am Flight 103 in Lockerbie, Scotland, a couple, Madeline and Bill Livingston, attends the memorial service for the victims, which includes their son. Madeline, still grieving, wanders the hills of Lockerbie trying to find some remnant of her son, as his body was entirely lost to the explosion. Bill, remaining stoic and in control, has not had a chance to mourn his son, and instead has to take care of his wife. Several local women who witnessed the crash want to wash the victims’ remaining clothes to send to their families for closure.
The Women of Lockerbie is, at its core, a story of humanity, what we can endure, and how we overcome adversity. As such, the stage is mostly bare, with a broken tree in the center, almost standing as a memorial to the plane crash. The characters’ recollections of the crash and aftermath are extraordinarily vivid and transport the audience to those moments in time – no other set pieces are necessary. Although steeped in sorrow, the show aims to offer guidance to peace through acceptance and love.
A quiet, emotional piece, The Women of Lockerbie relies on the vulnerability of the actors. As Madeline, Leah Verrill’s (who reminded me of the expressive Molly Parker from Deadwood) anguish is palpable, both in the wails for her son and in the hushed moments when she is lost in her memories. Alan Heitz, as Madeline’s husband Bill, tries his hardest to do what is best for his wife, despite having to hold in his own feelings. His recounting of returning his son’s Christmas gifts broke my heart. The Lockerbie women – Lisa K. Wyatt, Liz Fenning, Liesl Jackson and Eloise Coopersmith – are compassionate and resolute in their attempt to help the bereaved. They are tender with the Livingstons, while also revealing the destruction the crash caused in their lives. Ed Ackerman, as stern government agent George Jones, rounds out the cast and offers a glimpse of humor.
In any tragedy, it is natural to sympathize with the victims and those who lost a loved one. The Women of Lockerbie takes an engaging approach in also examining what it means to be a witness to such life-changing horror. Full of moving performances, this piece is a beautiful and melancholy commentary on the different stages of grief and finding the strength to move forward in love.