Some plays are hyped so much they can't possibly live up to it all. Heaven is one such: you read the advance puffery and know that it wouldn't be getting this treatment if its author hadn't died in the Lockerbie disaster, that it doesn't deserve the attention or the indulgence, that it's really a bottom-drawer job inflated by sentimentality for the dead and nothing more. But you watch it anyway; and you realise how comprehensively, shamefully wrong you've been.
It's all true: we have been deprived of a potentially sizeable playwriting talent who here marries compassion and despair in a (honestly) magic-realist setting in and around the Charing Cross nightclub of the title. Clubgoers encounter dossers; illusions are trampled on right, left and centre; the few crumbs of hope afforded to some have no wider effect, as the world around retrains intractably in place. The ceaseless undercurrent of questioning is neither token nor facile; Aicher wants real answers and the silence is deafening. To repeat myself: this play gets the admirable production it deserves, and it deserves to he seen.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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