9/11, an event that shocked the world and will never be forgotten, particularly on its 20th anniversary, All Ignite Theatre’s new production, The Duration, decides to approach this on a more personal level than the bigger picture though, by showcasing a story of a mother and daughter trying to rebuild and grieve after the death of their son/brother in the Twin Towers.
Audrey (Sarah Finigan) decides to deal with her sons’ death by running away from New York to a house in the middle of rural Pennsylvania, and despite being a well-educated History lecturer at a liberal university, even she begins to be swayed by conspiracy theories and Republican ideas being spouted by Fox news. Her daughter Emma (Florence Roberts), on the other hand, is also unsuccessfully dealing with her grief but instead decides to go to group therapy, but firmly sticks to her liberal ideas and worries about the new influences in her mothers’ life.
Both Finigan and Roberts are excellent, and have great familial chemistry as a mother/daughter duo. Writer, Bruce Graham, has written a gem of a part in Audrey – as we see her inwardly spiral around the latest news and conspiracies from the media, whilst distancing herself from her daughter. Finigan plays the part with fervour, yet gives nuance to the moments of clash between her education and ideologies from the aftermath of her grief. Roberts is also exceptional, her delivery creating light and shade between Emma’s erratic vs vulnerable moments. Will note now to watch out for their future work too!
Jelena Budimir’s direction allows them to showcase the variations of grief, whilst Graham’s writing occasionally enables them to nod to the wider right-wing ideas that stemmed from 9/11, yet are still prevalent today. A particular stand out moment is around a reported hate crime in Arizona due to a man being Asian, something reflected all too recently with reactions to events like the Euros.
Even stripped from the main topic of 9/11, The Duration is a character study in grief – and how it affects us in different ways. It also looks into how a tragedy can alter our view of the world, even despite wanting to remain good willed.
Although not the most cheerful of subjects, go for a superbly acted exploration of grief by the two leads and you’ll leave being glad you witnessed it.
The Duration is showing until the 26th of September at The Omnibus Theatre in Clapham.