I am still reeling from the two hours and 40 minutes of British playwright David Hare’s journalistic play Stuff Happens.

It was Lokes’ early birthday present before I went to Chicago. I’d seen the raving report in the Times a few weeks ago, and thought to bring my man there for some cultural insight.

While I expected to be entertained and even to be educated (I don’t know much about American politics, much less about the events that led to the war), I did not expect to be moved to tears. And moved to tears I was that at the end of the play, I’d stood up and clapped with such ferocity that my hands smarted all the way through our 30-minute drive home.

Stuff Happens, a name lifted off a remark made by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld when he was asked to comment on the looting in Iraq following the fall of Baghdad, is a fictionalised account of the lead-up to the Iraq war based on factual events and reports. This was what attracted me to buy the tickets because I do like political comedies.

I’m not going to play critic here since I’m no expert, but do read some here and here and here (although the Slate review is more pompous than constructive).

A word of caution though – this is a play, and Hare has said that “nothing in the play is “knowingly untrue,” but “less than a quarter of the play quotes the public statements of politicians verbatim”, so I won’t go signing any petitions right after.

What you may go away with is a sense of shock and awe, an effect much more cleverly delivered than even the real thing.

Stuff Happens plays at the ACT until July 22nd. Take your parents.