Sense of an Ending at Theatre503
Delivering news from war zones is not only problematic because of the dangers and logistics involved; when conflicts are underway, the search for the truth becomes a highly sensitive task. This is because of the added difficulty in distinguishing between witnesses who care for justice, and those merely interested in spreading propaganda. Sense of an Ending relates the story of Charles, a distinguished American journalist who must recover his reputation after being involved in a scandal. The golden opportunity to salvage his career comes in the shape of an exclusive interview with two Hutu nuns accused of participating, albeit passively, in the 1994 Rwandan massacres.
He initially sets out to write a piece proving the nuns’ innocence, believing that their religious background must certainly negate their involvement in any form of criminal activity, least of all the murdering of Tutsis inside a church. He concludes that they are likely being used as scapegoats and proceeds to look for a defence argument as eagerly as if he were their lawyer. The unexpected appearance of a Tutsi survivor who witnessed the horrors of the massacre in the church leaves Charles at a loss when he begins to doubt the nuns’ version of the story. The audience shares his feelings of confusion because both accounts sound genuine. It becomes clear that the truth is an elusive concept made up of different overlapping stories with hundreds of conflicting details. It is nigh impossible to grasp it – let alone express it – and take sides without second-guessing your own conclusions.
The cast delivers captivating performances that effortlessly draw the audience into the story. Akiya Henry, playing the young Sister Alice, is especially striking as she switches between naïvety and bitterness. In the background, glass panels dictate the mood depending on the colours lighted by the spotlights, and the modest surroundings of the prison are represented by wooden walls framing the sides of the stage. The play is effective in that it does not overdo the tragic elements, focusing instead on the subtle psychological shifts in the characters’ experiences. For the most part, it maintains an air of ambiguity in regards to where the blame should lie.
Apart from recounting a grave moment in recent history, Sense of an Ending ultimately demonstrates that each person’s perspective contains its own truths, and that it is an arduous task to distinguish the various shades between right and wrong.
Sense of an Ending is on at Theatre503 until 6th June 2015, for further information or to book visit here.