Cyprus

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 30 May-Sat 2 Jun, then touring.

Political thriller

When Cyprus, writer Peter Arnott’s taut, politically charged three-hander debuted at Mull Theatre in 2005, it was set on the day of the London bombings. ‘At the time, the bombings were the newest instalment of this continuing, sad, saga, ‘ says Arnott. ‘It actually occurred while we were rehearsing, and I very callously phoned the sound designer and told him to record Radio 4. We closed the show with a news report from that day.’ However, given the opportunity to tour the production again, he took the chance to make significant revisions to the script. Rather than leaving the play in aspic as a historical piece, Arnott’s various versions of the script, in which a retired M16 agent, his daughter and his former protégé clash over intelligence documents, now constitute a sort of rolling documentation of the war on terror.

‘It’s not tied to any single event any more. People’s perspectives have changed, and I’ve tried to give my characters two years more experience on the situation. Remember, they’re people who see nothing wrong with war as such, they just don’t like it when you cock it up - and the extent of the cock up has become impossible to ignore. In 2005, that the war was a fiasco wasn’t necessarily the majority opinion, but there’s no denying it now! So I had to approach it from a different point of view. Nothing’s certain, now. The question we’re asking isn’t ‘how did we get into this mess”’ it’s ‘is there any way out of it?’ And at the moment, the answer appears to be ‘no.’

(Kirstin Innes)

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