Seven Seconds Play In The Camden New Journal

 The Camden New Journal  Published: 10 October, 2013 by TOM FOOT

File 76

HE’S worked as an MI5 spy. He’s been labelled a crackpot. He’s called himself “The Messiah”.

But on Tuesday night, David Shayler, the renegade agent who exposed a British plot to murder Colonel Gaddafi, added “actor” to the long list of labels attributed to him.

He made his stage debut at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden High Street, in a play... about conspiracy theories.

Hounded by the authorities and forced into a life of isolation after being jailed for breaking the Official Secrets Act in 2002, this was Mr Shayler stepping out of the shadows.

Seven Seconds is a “dramatised multi-media production” presenting an intriguing alternative to the official account of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

“Tonight is about science,” said actor and director Peter Neathey, from Kentish Town, who puts in an intense performance as the master of ceremonies.

“It is not about ‘the who’, but ‘the what.’”

Mr Neathey cast Mr Shayler, 47, as James Bone – a Times correspondent who was in New York when the Twin Towers fell.

Mr Shayler’s lines are taken verbatim from reports filed by Mr Bone, where he dismissed Truth Movement campaigners as a “gruesome assortment” of a “deluded gang of ageing hippies”.

The night air was thick with debate in the pub garden of the Oxford Arms at the interval, where Mr Shayler talked enthusiastically about information on the internet, code words, Air Force One and George Bush.

Leading journalists including Robert Fisk, Nicholas Lezard, David Aaranovitch and George Monbiot – also represented by actors in the play – are mostly mocked for their stubborn refusal to look at the “hard facts”.

Mr Neathey’s character – Bob Bernstein, a homage to Watergate journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein – asks: “We hear a lot these days about Press regulation and Leveson. But why bother muzzling sheep?”

With the Press under direct attack in the play, Mr Shayler’s Bone jumps out of his chair and bellows “shut up you stupid racist lunatic”, before stomping off stage.

Seven Seconds focuses on the idea of controlled demolitions on 9/11 and debates evidence from prize-winning scientists, architects and demolition experts that are projected onto a large screen.

The play looks at the terrible environment toll of the destruction and the associated deaths of hundreds of “first attenders” to the scene.

In one of the most interesting sections, the play looks at the psychological arguments about why “pride-obsessed” Americans refuse to take counter arguments seriously and about “cognitive dissonance”, the discomfort felt by people who hold two conflicting beliefs.

“If you are learning about this for the first time,” says Neathey, “I feel sorry for you. You are now in a very difficult position.”