You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Women of Lockerbie

The hills of Scotland stand in for ancient Greece in Deborah Brevoort's earnest but stilted play about the emotional aftereffects of the downing of a Pan Am jet by terrorists in 1988. The play is obviously modeled on Greek tragedy but its content never rises above the level of a TV movie.

With:
Bill Livingston - Larry Pine Olive Allison - Jenny Sterlin Woman #1 - Angela Pietropinto Woman #2 - Kristen Sieh Madeline Livingston - Judith Ivey George Jones - Adam Trese Hattie - Kathleen Doyle

The hills of Scotland stand in for ancient Greece in Deborah Brevoort’s earnest but stilted play about the emotional aftereffects of the downing of a Pan Am jet by terrorists in 1988. The play is obviously modeled on Greek tragedy — it observes the standard unities and features a chorus — but its content never rises above the level of a TV movie, despite studious efforts to heighten the rhetorical tone in keeping with the classical structure.

Judith Ivey plays the teary protagonist, the mother of one of the victims. Madeline has, we are told, spent the seven years since the tragedy weeping on the couch.

Her husband, Bill (Larry Pine), has brought her to the site of the crash in hopes that she’ll find closure at last. While Madeline wanders the hills (effectively abstracted in Derek McLane’s striking set design), rather irrationally looking for a physical trace of her son’s remains, Bill engages with a chorus of local women led by Olive Allison (Jenny Sterlin).

They are seeking to stop a plan to incinerate the clothing of the victims; they want to wash it and return it to the next of kin. The play’s most crudely drawn character is an American diplomat so crass he professes admiration for George Steinbrenner. He’s all set to carry out official orders to burn the clothes before undergoing an unconvincing last-minute conversion.

The dialogue, which appears in the printed text as blank verse, moves up and down the rhetorical scale. Olive, consoling Bill, is partial to the oracular style: “You can’t reason with grief. It has no ears to hear you. Let her walk the hills and tread her grief into the ground.” Madeline doesn’t have that kind of distance: “Why did I choose Pan Am over Delta?” she wails.

Ivey spends much of the play in convincing hysterics, while Pine, with his marvelous sorrowing eyes, looks on in pained frustration. But neither sincere and skillful performances nor artful arrangement on the page can disguise the blunt obviousness of the dialogue. “We came here to find peace!” Bill exhorts his wife. “I want justice!” she shoots back. “I won’t find peace until there is justice!” “That’s not justice. That’s revenge.” Discussions of the cruelties of fate also grow tedious when they are framed in such generic terms.

The choral interludes dwell ponderously on similarly well-trodden ground, albeit at a higher literary altitude: “If the night was full of light, we would not see the stars. And if hatred never pierced our hearts, we would not know the power of love.”

The production apparently had a last-minute change of directors. Wilson Milam, touted on a March 24 press release, was replaced by New Group helmer Scott Elliott. But the style of the play is a far cry from the pungent naturalism Elliott tends to specialize in, and the result is understandably uncertain.

But it’s hard to see how any director could reconcile the discordance between Brevoort’s ambitious literary style and the banality of her ideas.

The Women of Lockerbie

Theater at St. Clement's; 160 seats; $50

Production: A New Group and Women's Project & Prods. Presentation of a play in one act by Deborah Brevoort. Directed by Scott Elliott

Creative: Sets, Derek McLane; costumes, Mattie Ullrich; lighting, Jason Lyons; sound, Ken Travis. Opened April 6, 2003. Reviewed April 5. Running time: 1 HOUR, 15 MIN.

Cast: Bill Livingston - Larry Pine Olive Allison - Jenny Sterlin Woman #1 - Angela Pietropinto Woman #2 - Kristen Sieh Madeline Livingston - Judith Ivey George Jones - Adam Trese Hattie - Kathleen Doyle

More Legit

  • Pinocchio review

    London Theater Review: 'Pinocchio'

    The hills of Scotland stand in for ancient Greece in Deborah Brevoort’s earnest but stilted play about the emotional aftereffects of the downing of a Pan Am jet by terrorists in 1988. The play is obviously modeled on Greek tragedy — it observes the standard unities and features a chorus — but its content never […]

  • The Children review

    Broadway Review: 'The Children'

    The hills of Scotland stand in for ancient Greece in Deborah Brevoort’s earnest but stilted play about the emotional aftereffects of the downing of a Pan Am jet by terrorists in 1988. The play is obviously modeled on Greek tragedy — it observes the standard unities and features a chorus — but its content never […]

  • Marilyn Stasio's 10 Best New York

    10 Best New York Theater Productions of 2017

    The hills of Scotland stand in for ancient Greece in Deborah Brevoort’s earnest but stilted play about the emotional aftereffects of the downing of a Pan Am jet by terrorists in 1988. The play is obviously modeled on Greek tragedy — it observes the standard unities and features a chorus — but its content never […]

  • Adam Driver

    Adam Driver to Star in 'Burn This' on Broadway

    The hills of Scotland stand in for ancient Greece in Deborah Brevoort’s earnest but stilted play about the emotional aftereffects of the downing of a Pan Am jet by terrorists in 1988. The play is obviously modeled on Greek tragedy — it observes the standard unities and features a chorus — but its content never […]

  • The Twilight Zone review

    London Theater Review: 'The Twilight Zone'

    The hills of Scotland stand in for ancient Greece in Deborah Brevoort’s earnest but stilted play about the emotional aftereffects of the downing of a Pan Am jet by terrorists in 1988. The play is obviously modeled on Greek tragedy — it observes the standard unities and features a chorus — but its content never […]

  • HadestownNew York Theatre WorkshopBy Anaïs MitchellDeveloped

    Streaming to Broadway: How New Titles, Talent Grow Buzz Online

    The hills of Scotland stand in for ancient Greece in Deborah Brevoort’s earnest but stilted play about the emotional aftereffects of the downing of a Pan Am jet by terrorists in 1988. The play is obviously modeled on Greek tragedy — it observes the standard unities and features a chorus — but its content never […]

  • Chrissy Metz

    Chrissy Metz to Star in Neil LaBute's 'Fat Pig' at Geffen Playhouse

    The hills of Scotland stand in for ancient Greece in Deborah Brevoort’s earnest but stilted play about the emotional aftereffects of the downing of a Pan Am jet by terrorists in 1988. The play is obviously modeled on Greek tragedy — it observes the standard unities and features a chorus — but its content never […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content