Grenfell: Value Engineering – Scenes From The Inquiry – The Tabernacle, London

Reviewer: Christine Stanton

Editor: Richard Norton-Taylor

Director: Nicolas Kent

The fire of Grenfell Tower is a modern tragedy: 72 lives taken and thousands of families, friends, residents, and locals whose lives will never be the same again. It was an event that would never have happened, had it not been for value engineering and corner cutting.

This verbatim production edited by Richard Norton-Taylor and directed by Nicolas Kent takes you to the heart of the Grenfell inquiry, recounting the testimonials of those who were involved and those who were affected. Using only words spoken and evidence presented at the inquiry, this re-enactment pieces together the accounts of those responsible with shocking revelations.

While the original phase 2 inquiry spanned over the course of 18 months, Norton-Taylor does a great job of condensing the accounts into two acts lasting 2 hours 40 minutes. Hearing from cladding experts, architects and building officers, it’s a harrowing reconstruction, examining the decisions that could have stopped the horror of Grenfell from happening.

The performance cleverly relies on the use of both spoken word from the cast, and multimedia used during the inquiry, highlighting key emails, videos, and contracts as though you were in the inquiry room itself. While heavy on facts, figures, and dates, the performance leaves you well equipped with multiple key takeaways from the tragedy. Another technique that works well to weave these accounts together is by manipulating the timeline and switching between a variety of key witnesses to keep the tribunal as hard-hitting and eye-opening as possible.

Ron Cook playing Richard Millet QC, counsel to the inquiry, does a brilliant job of presenting the evidence and leading the scenes from one witness to another. Daniel Betts is flawless in his roles as both firefighter David Badillo and David Gibson, head of capital investment. Delivering in his role as Badillo specifically, he exudes the emotion and passion that is reflected in the audience. Breaking up the testimonies from the incompetent and negligent, the decision to include the voice and testimonials from some bereaved representatives is a welcome inclusion. The dichotomy between those affected and those responsible is a stark reminder of how many lives have been touched by this devastating incident.

This is not an easy watch and, of course, contains various trigger warnings throughout. The cast and crew honour the victims by shining a light on all of the shameful moments as to when and where Grenfell could been avoided.

Runs until 13 November 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

Harrowing Reconstruction

The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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