Body of evidence

Stephanie Lightfoot- Bennet has spent three years investigating the death of her twin brother in police custody. Now her quest for justice is the subject of a typically hard-hitting piece of drama from the Grassmarket Project. Neil Cooper got the inside


There are no black people living in Manchester. apparently. At least. this is the view of one of the city‘s more eminent coroners. This particular coroner was in charge of the inquest of 31-year-old Leon Patterson. who was found dead while in police custody - and his seeming lack of knowledge of the local community was his response to being asked why there were no black people on the jury. The person doing the asking was Leon‘s twin sister Stephanie Lightfoot-Bennet. who has pushed things as far as a third inquest. and now somewhat remarkably plays herself in 20/52. the latest piece of theatre on the edge by the award- winning. Edinburgh-based Grassmarket Project. The play charts Stephanie‘s ongoing battle with ajudicial system still possessed by an almost

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20/52: real-life drama Kalkaesque inaccessibility.

"The first inquest was stopped because there was a policeman who‘d been on duty the night Leon died whose wife was on the jury.‘ says Stephanie. taking a fag-break during rehearsals. ‘Tben at the second inquest the Home Office toxicologist admitted falsifying the evidence by putting Leon's name to somebody elses body fluids who‘d died of a drugs overdose. That was the original verdict. that Leon dietl of Mogadon poisoning.‘ It was only Stephanie‘s amateur interest in pathology which helped disprove this.

As with all the group‘s work. a rough script has been developed from improvisations which were vitleoed then transcribed. ()n the night there'll be more emphasis on emotion and energy than word-perfect projection.


something which in itself sets The Grassmarket Project apart from the luvvie-fest that will monopolise the Traverse Bar. 20/52 (the name ofthe form completed when a high risk prisoner goes into custody) is a lot more specific than the Grassmarket Project‘s controversial Glad. Bad and Mad trilogy. and director Jeremy Weller sees the play as complementary to Stephanie's campaign forjustice. ‘There‘s a conference going on centred around the play.‘ says Weller. who Stephanie refers to throughout rehearsals as ‘fuck-face'. 'There‘s also going to be a television documentary about the case. Also. she‘s part of a wider movement now. There's a growing cynicism with politics. the Church. psychology and all these social organisations. and here‘s someone who’s going for it on her own.‘

As sassily strident as she is. Stephanie refuses to see herself as some kind of political figurehead. ‘l'm not doing a campaign for anybody but me. my twin. his daughter and my family. l'm not politically motivated. l'm twin motivated. l was one of those people who read things in the paper and never believed they could happen to me. Well. lo and behold. it happened. and I just want people to realise it‘s happening here. even though it's not Brazil where they‘ve got snatch squads going round. or Cuba where people are being killed. Somebody's got to start paying attention and the whole judicial system has to be changed to allow families the basic right of finding out what happened to their loved ones. People should start voicing their opinions rather than sitting round having quiet little discussions with one another.‘

I 20/52 (Fringe) Grassrnarket Project. Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) 228 1404. l() Aug—2 Sept. various times. £7 (£4).

One Way Street

Bona flde miracle workers may be thin on the ground these days, but for the last few years Scottish theatre has been noised up considerably by a whole host of ad hoc, unsubsidised companies whose quality of work and commitment has often left more established, building-based companies standing. So much so that the last year has seen more than one quite literally having to sort their act out.

A swift shimmy through the Fringe programme is all it takes to become aware of the variety of home grown talent on offer. Once you’ve heaved

over how many times the words Oxford and Cambridge appear, check out White Rabbit Cowboys, Castlemilk People’s Theatre, Lookout and Wiseguise. All are Scottish, all have shows on, and all are written by relatively young writers. Having a pop seems to be the name of the game, and all these companies look set to be a fertile breeding-ground for future main-house names.

Playwright Oavid Creig - who had a hit at Traverse with Europe, and who now takes his own company Suspect Culture to the same venue to perform his widely-acclaimed One Way Street - sees this as a chance for young professionals to learn their craft, and also to be more daring than some institutions might allow. ‘There’s a tremendous amount of energy up here just now which the subsidised companies aren’t able to harness. Also, it’s about not having to


One Way Street is a one-man interior travelogue inspired by philosopher Walter Benjamin’s notion of viewing his life as geography rather than biography. Greig also has a short film commissioned by the BBC, Night life, premiering at the Film Festival. With all this activity he’s somehow found the time to become Script Associate at Traverse, thus ensuring first-hand contact with the current home team of writers on the cusp of greatness, of which he’s clearly at the forefront. ‘There’s a really good playwrighting scene in Scotland worthy of international acclaim, and i think that’s going to happen sooner rather than later.’ (lleil Cooper)

One Way Street (Fringe) Suspect Culture, Traverse Theatre ( Venue 15) 2281404, 10-20 Aug, various times, £7 (£4).

Four shows between 3pm and 6pm and every one a winner. Ellie Carr puts her money on some first-week-of-the- Fringe frontrunners.

I The Yellow Wallpaper Intensity big- tirne from stunning Hungarian dancer Yvette Bozsik and her brand-new sidekick Sacha Hails. Following through her favourite (antl slightly worrying) theme of being trapped in confined spaces. Bozsik is this year trapped in a room with. you guessed it yellow wallpaper. in this new piece based on the feminist novel by Charlotte Perkins Gilmann.

The Yellow Wallpaper (Fringe) Compagnie Yvette Bozsik. Dundee Rep Theatre (Venue 22) 558 337/ (01382 223530) 21—26 Aug. 7pm. £6 (£4).

I Women in Uniform The kittens of comedy are back! After clawing their way to the top last year with surprise bit Kittens go (irrr/ the lippiest lasses on the stand-up circuit return with a stunning new wardrobe of characters. Cheery. xenophobic holitlay reps. West End child-stars. thermos-wielding man- spotters and Euro-hip MTV presenters to name but a few.

Wooten in Uniform (Fringe) Mel and Sue. The l’leasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. 9 Aug—2 Sept. 4pm. £6.50 (£5.50); £7.50 (£6.50).

I 20/52 Another short. sharp. shock of grassroots drama from the award- winning Edinburgh-based Grassmarket Project. Last time it was a cast of young offenders playing themselves in Bad. This time it’s the story of a young man's suspicious death in police custody. with the starring role played by his real-life sister Stephanie Ligbtfoot-Bennett.

20/52 (Fringe) (Irass‘market Project. 'Irai'erse Theatre (Venue I5) 228 I404, l0 Aug—2 Sept (no shows 20/2/ Aug). various times. £7 (£4).


I Tete en L’Air First European tour frorn turbo-boosted young Los Angeles dance company. Diavolo Dance Theatre. At the leading edge of a new LA trend known as ‘hyper—dance‘. (Euro-crash on this side of the Atlantic) the company go in for heavy-duty bruise-gathering. chucking themselves round giant staircases. ten-foot tunnels. metal cages and platforms.

'I'ete en L'xlir (Fringe) [)iavo/o Dance Theatre. Church Hill Theatre (Venue 46) 447 ()III. II Aug—2 Sept. 5.30pm. £5 ( £4); £7 (£5).

The List ll-l7 Aug 1995 33