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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 August 2005, 08:32 GMT 09:32 UK
Fringe drama remembers Hiroshima
By Neil Smith
BBC News entertainment reporter

Edinburgh play Enola explores the Hiroshima bombing 60 years after the event.

James Yeatman and Ellie Bruce in Enola
James Yeatman and Ellie Bruce play lead roles in Enola
On August 6 1945, the B-29 Superfortress plane Enola Gay dropped 'Little Boy' - the world's first atomic bomb - on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

The second atomic weapon - 'Fat Man' - was delivered over Nagasaki three days later.

Sixty years on these world-changing events are remembered in Enola, one of several shows on the Edinburgh Fringe to draw inspiration from the events of World War II.

Written by Edinburgh University graduate Al Smith, the play blends fact and fiction to investigate the effects of what Winston Churchill called "the Second Coming in wrath".

"The play is set between 1938 and 1950 and is about a girl called Enola Gay, whose grandmother was the person the plane was named after," says the 23-year-old.


"The young Enola lives in a town called Rockwood in Kansas, which in our story is where they built the B-29 Superfortress planes.

"It's about the relationship between the young Enola and what happened on the other side of the world, and whether one individual should accept culpable responsibility for a national event."

The Enola Gay crew

Part of Smith's play deals with the scientists who designed the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, the secret town the US government built during the war in the remote hills of New Mexico.

Smith says the character of Cramer, the bomb's designer in his play, is a composite of scientist J Robert Oppenheimer and physicist Richard Feynman.

Enola also incorporates the testimony of a British doctor who worked in Hiroshima in 1946, and eyewitness accounts from US journalist George Weller, the first foreign reporter to visit Nagasaki after the blast there.

"I did a huge amount of research to make sure the dates and facts are real," says Smith.

"But after that we took some liberties. For example, the female lineage of Enola Gay characters was created for our story."


The writer believes presenting the play on the anniversary of the events it remembers will bring an extra frisson to proceedings.

"I think it will feel particularly charged between 6 and 9 August," he says.

Enola writer Al Smith
Al Smith recently graduated from Edinburgh University
"Sixty years to the day, it will make people look back and ask what it means to us and what has changed."

Enola is not the only Fringe production to address the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II hostilities.

War-Time Wives looks at the trials and tribulations of life on the home front, while children's show Lifeboat tells of two young evacuees struggling to survive in the middle of the Atlantic.

Another children's show, The Shelter, is described as a "site-specific thriller" set against the backdrop of the Second World War.

And comedian Jamie Douglas plays a heroic British pilot battling the Luftwaffe in Spitfire Electronique.

Enola is being staged at Smirnoff Baby Belly until 28 August.

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