Dominic Cavendish
Published: 05 May 2007

Starring Harriet Walter and Imogen Stubbs, Fallujah is a devastating new piece of documentary theatre about the Iraqi city that was "pacified" to the point of annihilation by coalition forces in 2004. It's a promenade production, which means you're shuffling or standing for 90 minutes.

This is as it should be: you leave feeling that the evening is a necessary act of collective penance - the first of many? - for our part in a war which, even as Tony Blair slinks away from Number 10, continues to define itself as a humanitarian and political catastrophe. In a foreword, the writer-director Jonathan Holmes rightly acknowledges that "it is impossible to present a fully authentic picture - a theatre cannot be made to look like a besieged city." To make the abstract point, the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane - a cavernous space hired for the occasion by the ICA - has had an art-installation makeover by Lucy and Jorge Orta. Here stands a Red Cross ambulance, there a row of hospital beds or sinister biochemical suits for us to wander around and inspect. This approach is a bit too chic for its own good, though, and while I salute the attempts to simulate aerial bombardment, the effect is more like being at a rave than under siege.

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