Tricycle Theatre proves yet again its panache of bringing critical issues to the forefront. Its previous venture about the summer riots in London seemed to be the only real exploration into the siege and now, their new play ‘The Bomb’, explores the social and moral ramifications of nuclear warfare.

‘The Bomb’ is a ten-part episodic play featuring different views on nuclear power by nine playwrights. In a span of five hours, it tries to do a quick sprint across the globe and pursues perspectives from as far as the USA, North Korea, and even as close to home as 10 Downing Street.

Replete with political dilemmas and historical references, a play like this would drain the senses and make the audience moribund. But this is not the case with the ‘The Bomb’. Built on the Tricycle’s strengths of always providing an excellent script and a good cast enable this power-packed piece of dramaturgy to flow seamlessly.

We begin with Ron Hutchinson’s ‘Calculated Risk’ from the chambers of Clement Attlee as he discusses with his advisors the horrifying consequences of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While the Prime Minister is convinced that upping their nuclear weapons is nothing but a recipe for disaster, his defence team continue to push it forward. More than anything else, it threw light on just how important matters like this might be discussed by politicians.

Leaving the U.K., we descend into ‘Little Russians’, a hilarious black comedy by John Donnelly about Ukrainians attempting to sell nuclear warheads leftover by the Russians on the black market. Within the humour, the play explores the consequences of nuclear weapons and received a few chortles from the audience.

But the two strongest segments were ‘Seven Joys’ by Lee Blessing and ‘Option’ by Amit Gupta.

‘Seven Joys’ is a satirical take on the 1940s era of nuclear proliferation. It started off being a confusing allegory with a gentlemen’s club becoming less and less exclusive. Outsiders were proliferating slowly but steadily, armed with “eggs”. It brought about the nuclear strategies of different countries brilliantly – from China helping Pakistan to America helping India.

‘Option’ by Amit Gupta is a gripping story about India beginning to view nuclear power as a status symbol after China first tested its nuclear weapons in 1964. Told through the lives of three civil nuclear servants, the story is beautifully constructed raising valid questions and arguments.

Everything from the play, from the elegant saree worn by Shereen martin to the reconciliation of Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of non-violence was a delight to watch. So what should a nation do to show its scientific and nuclear muscle? ‘Have a peaceful nuclear explosion.’ The answer produces some laughter with no mirth.

The casting for the play is exemplary, consisting of members from diverse backgrounds, like the suave Paul Bhattacharjee and the stylish Shereen Martin, and add versatility to ‘The Bomb.’

Presented on a simple and minimalist set with video screens designed by Polly Sullivan, ‘The Bomb’ has been carefully crafted by director Nicholas Kent. Sadly, Kent is stepping down from his role in Tricycle after nearly three decades. With such an ambitious play on such a contentious topic, he could not have asked for a better exit.

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