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Fringe review and production photos: Sense of an Ending, Theatre 503

SOAE Dress, © Jack Sain 2015-0914
Sense of an Ending, Theatre 503. Photo by Jack Sain

Fringe theatre is where the difficult to watch plays are at the moment. Ken Urban's new piece, Sense of an Ending, is about a journalist investigating the case of two nun's who are standing trial for their part in the massacre of Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide.

While there are some necessary grim details about the murders and attacks this is a play that focuses more on the emotional agony, moral dilemmas, guilt and self justification.

Ben Onwukwe plays Charles, an American journalist who is trying to rebuild his career having made a mistake. He's been granted exclusive access to Sister Justina (Lynette Clarke) and Sister Alice (Akiya Henry) in order to interview them for a piece for the New York Times.

He arrives believing they must be innocent, believing that as women of God they wouldn't have allowed Tutsi men, women and children to be massacred in their church. The nuns' Hutu captors think otherwise and then there is Dusabi (Kevin Golding) who also has a story to tell about the massacre.

Charles questions his own motives for pursuing the story and whether he can be objective with such emotive issues. As he investigates the story the truth is inevitably not a simple case of right and wrong.

It is a conflict you see played out in several of the characters and in particular the nuns. Their journey is a hard and complex one through denial, justification and ultimately acceptance and one which challenges their core beliefs.

Convincingly performed and simply but effectively staged with a stained-glass window effect back drop, the power of the play is in its moral dilemmas but ultimately in its questions about forgiveness and reconciliation.

If I was going to have one quibble it would be in Charles' monologues which don't feel necessary. There is enough in what is happening in the narrative and in Ben Onwukwe's performance to get an understanding of his inner conflict without it being spelled out.

It is a minor quibble though. Sense of an Ending's 90 minutes are gripping and haunting and you can catch it at Theatre 503 in Battersea until June 3

To see all the production photos or head over to Flickr.