Alex Updike, Staff Writer
“There is no grief like the grief of losing a child:” an odd theme for a play performed in front of a mostly college-aged audience to be centered on. How can one connect to a play centered on an ideal that simply does not relate to us? The answer lies, as many of us have come to learn through our time in college, on a deeper level of meaning. What if, instead of being centered on a physical idea of losing a child, the play was focused on the deeper idea of cleansing ourselves of grief? What if the idea of the Women of Lockerbie was to turn our attention to our own dirty laundry, our own “shelves of sorrow?”
On the surface, the Women of Lockerbie has a simple plot line: a mother and father unexpectedly lose their child, Adam Livingston, in a horrific plane crash and return to the site years later to attend a memorial. Upon their return, Mrs. Livingston never having received even a fragment of her son’s remains, relentlessly searches the local hills for any shred of memory linked to her only child. Eventually, she learns of a warehouse filled with the victims’ remaining clothes. After a plot conflict involving a potential burning of all those remains, she is granted permission to search the warehouse for anything belonging to Adam; anything that could bring her a semblance of closure. After failing to find even a shred of clothing, Mrs. Livingston is distraught, clawing at herself in a fit of emotion, only to have the very man who so vehemently tried to burn all evidence, return Adam’s suitcase to her and her husband. The play ends with Adam’s father finally feeling the emotion of his son’s death while the women of the town quietly wash the victim’s clothes in the local stream.
It really is a touching play all on its own, but the acting and directing is what brought out the play’s deeper meaning and really made the Women of Lockerbie stick with the audience. Throughout the play, deeper issues of God’s involvement in tragedy, how to handle tragedy from a male versus female perspective, what love is compared to hate, and each individual’s ability to move on from their own “dirty laundry” were all explored.
By the end of the play, the audience realizes that not only is Mrs. Livingston mourning a loss, but so is Olive, the leader of the local women, who lost both her daughter and husband when the flight crashed into the town. Two women must come to grips with their horrifying pasts in order to move on to a future not controlled by the hate which had gripped them. By the end of the play, both are able to wash the victim’s clothes in the local stream, an obvious metaphor for the cleansing of their souls.
Overall, the play was very well done. The acting was solid and the play spoke on a level beyond what the actors were physically portraying on the surface, both which speak volumes of senior director Clare Laverman. Through a simple hour and a half on a floor in a theater, an audience was able to take a deeper look at grief, forgiveness, sorrow, and what it truly takes to wash our dirty clothes clean.