Contemporary issues should be the lifeblood of new writing, feeding playwrights with situations and themes to explore and examine. Yet the 7/7 bombings that hit central London have been relatively untapped. Steven Hevey’s In My Name, which is currently playing at the Trafalgar Studios, puts this right.
Set in the aftermath of the tube and bus explosions, all the action takes place in the basement flat of Grim, a dressing gown-clad 20-something bachelor wallowing in the depression of a not-so-recent break up. While Grim strives to avoid thinking about the carnage outside, new flatmate Egg wants to attack it head on. The arrival of Grim’s Asian colleague Royal and a curry deliveryman see tensions rise until Egg snaps.
Between them, Hevey’s four characters manage to explore the different reactions to the terrorist threat. James Alexandrou’s confused, bemused Grim doesn’t want to engage with it, blocking out the danger as something happening outside, focusing instead on what is happening to him as an individual. Kevin Watt’s paranoid Egg launches a battle cry and sees danger in anyone of Asian origin.
But aside from the obvious reaction to terrorism, Hevey’s play flirts with a host of other 21st century issues. His representation of struggling young working males and the different issues they face marks him as a writer with a keen observational eye for realism. Royal – who we meet as a hyperactive, drugged up, street-talking, multi-mobile carrying, hoody-wearing youth – presents an image of himself in an attempt to fit in, while the lost, only partially mature Grim bemoans the fact that he has nothing to believe in. Why should he fight for his country as Egg expects him to?
Georgia Lowe’s design, like Hevey’s script, is almost pitch perfect for the lad’s flat it depicts, from the second hand sofa to the magazines and takeaway menus strewn across both table and floor. The only thing missing is the obligatory games console.
As a footnote to the production, Ray Panthaki, who plays Royal and is the boyfriend of Brooke Kinsella, spoke about the recent murder of her brother Ben, and dedicated the performance to him. In today’s world, sitting in a dressing gown with a cup of tea changing the channel is no longer an option.