Bombers Row

Edinburgh Festival review
Rating (out of 5)
Show info
78th Street Theatrelab
Running time

Paul Allman’s new comedy Bombers Row isn’t funny. Sadly, that is not where this production’s problems ends. Which is really quite a feat as it has absolutely everything going for it.

It starts off with a truly great set-up. Four notorious murderers (Unabomber Ted Kacynski, Oklahoma City bomber Ted McVeigh, 1993 Twin Towers bomber Ramzi Yousef and New York ganglord Luis Filipe) spend an hour in each other’s company locked in personal cages in a high security prison’s exercise yard as a result of some quirk in the American prison system that I wouldn’t have found credible before Guantanamo Bay…

And that’s about the best thing you can say about this piece.

It’s a great idea before the lights go down. Because after that it gets stuck up its own arse while it tries desperately to be amusing in an “eager student rather too fond of his Samuel Beckett” sort of manner. And… quickly... inevitably… excruciatingly… you learn that Paul Allman is no Samuel Beckett.

And… well… that this one’s a turkey…

Its memorable low points include its broadwayesque solo songs, its breathtaking misconceptions about radical Islam (not a good sign in an American production after four years of war in Iraq) and the writer’s naïve trust we will be shocked by the idea that perpetrators of horrendous crimes against the innocent can also believe themselves to be good patriotic Americans.

I would love to say that there was an intended irony behind what I saw played out in front of me. There wasn’t. The actors, all of whom obviously have some talent, appeared pretty disillusioned to the extent that one wondered, at times, if they even knew their lines.

This is a show where evil is portrayed by a foreign accent. Where plot can only be found by the spurious introduction of a pretty, blonde hairdresser on a revenge mission to kill McVeigh.

Where scene changes in America’s most secure penitentiary are choreographed like dance routines and where three mass murderers worry about the arrival of a ganglord with a Cuban background.

Bombers Row is pants.

And, frankly, it is the worst piece of theatre I’ve seen promoted under the Assembly banner in over twenty years.

Miss it.