Edinburgh church hall presents guide to bomb-making

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The Independent Online
AUDIENCES AT the Edinburgh Festival Fringe are being given detailed lessons in how to make a bomb.

The lesson forms part of a play being performed in a church hall by University of London students.

The work is written and directed by a graduate who spent much of his youth in psychiatric homes after he was convicted of arson. His father recently committed suicide and his younger brother was knocked down and killed by a train after sniffing glue.

The author, Zimon Drake, financed the pounds 1,500 production with a graduate loan from Barclay's Bank. The play's cast of eight are all studying at Queen Mary and Westfield College, London, and Mr Drake, though 36, recently graduated there after taking an access course to study English and drama.

The play, Wildview II, went on as scheduled last night at the Old St Paul's Scottish Episcopal Church Hall on the Royal Mile, even though Mr Drake acknowledged it would offend some people after the Omagh bombing.

In one nine-minute monologue the central character, an arsonist who makes bombs and kills a policeman early in the play, gives a masterclass in how to make a nitroglycerine bomb.

Mr Drake said yesterday he copied the instructions from The Anarchist's Cook Book, which is banned in Britain.

He added: "You can easily find out how to make a bomb, even a nuclear bomb, on the Internet. My play is about the rage circulating in communities, which gets deposited in individuals. The character in the play exhorts the audience to go out and leave small bombs if democracy isn't working. I don't agree with his extremes, but I agree with the thinking behind it. I can't take responsibility for how audiences interpret the play or for other people's actions." He said if people were "really offended" he would be prepared to close the show.

Daniel Balfe, the London promoter of the production who is renting the church hall for four weeks, said yesterday he had not seen the show.

"I am a little bemused," he said. "I will have to see the show and then make a decision on whether to pull it. Obviously this is a church building and there have been some complaints."

The lesson in bomb making is likely to be the Fringe's biggest embarrassment in years. Yesterday Hilary Strong, director of the Fringe, said: "I have no power to close a production. I can only censor the advertising. Unfortunately we do get some very young people who don't always think through the consequences of the gestures they make and the impact they will have."

Last Saturday two students tried to publicise their play about the IRA by walking down the Royal Mile in balaclava helmets. They were cautioned by police. No police action has been taken over the bomb-making play, but both episodes demonstrate the lack of control over the material on show at the world's biggest arts festival.