Rebecca Peyton’s monologue about the murder of her sister, BBC journalist Kate Peyton should be billed with a clear warning: if you don’t know Rebecca before the performance begins, you will by the end, and you’ll find it difficult to disentangle yourself from her when the lights go down.
Written, directed and dissappointingly edited down (I could have easily sat and watched the ‘director’s cut’), Rebecca’s re-telling of her family’s agonising loss when Kate was shot at on an assignment in Mogadishu in February 2005 is compelling. The detail is evocative. A masterclass in great writing and similarly gripping performance. Rebecca’s apparent serenity describing how she learnt how much her sister was respected was particularly beguiling.
But, as the 70 minute piece progresses the admiration for how well-adjusted she appears about practically everything is replaced with a nagging worry that this isn’t over for her. An overwhelming sense of collective responsibility pervades from that moment on. We are angry on her behalf. We promise ourselves and her we’ll right the wrongs. We’ll give her and her family the happy ending they deserve. We’ll all leave this theatre feeling good. It will be OK.
Then you’re reminded that while this is the first you’ve heard the story in all it’s electrifying detail, Rebecca has performed it endless times. She’s better now, isn’t she? Of course she is, she’s acting. Isn’t she?
Don’t do what I did after the show. Don’t go and buy a glass of wine, and don’t wait patiently for an opportunity to gush. You’ll only make yourself look a fool. In trying to respond to something which has hit you like a freight train, you’ll blurt out something ridiculous.
Instead, take your time. Have some recovery time somewhere in the back of the theatre bar. Compose yourself. Even better, go for a glass of sparkling water like she does. Occupy yourself. Look at the flyers. Plan visits to future productions.
Go see this thought-provoking show in London at 4pm on Saturday 12 January, at the Actor’s Centre before Rebecca jets off to South Africa to perform there. Follow @rebeccapeyton for more info.
Listen to an interview with Rebecca Peyton recorded in 2011 below.