Bin Laden: The One Man Show

Sam Redway and Toby Tyrrell-Jones

Knaïve Theatre

C

From 02 August 2017 to 28 August 2017

Rating: ****

Review by Keith Mckenna

Osama Bin Laden is one of the great monsters of modern times. Of course he is. He has done some terrible things.

But that does raise some puzzling questions. If he is so monstrous, why did so many people seem to support him, and what was it that made him so monstrous?

Bin Laden: The One Man Show doesn’t quite answer these questions but it does challenge our perception of Bin Laden.

The charming, urbane white male (Sam Redway) that greets us as we arrive at the show seems the complete opposite of a monster. He is friendly and pleasantly amusing.

He asks us if we are completely happy with the government and if not why not. Audience members cite dissatisfaction with the NHS sell off and Brexit amongst other things.

He then introduces himself.

“My name is Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Aboud bin Laden al Qatani and tonight, ladies and gentleman, I am going to show you how to change the world.”

His book sits on the corner of a desk. To our left on the stage there is a flipchart upon which he lists the steps we might take.

He tells a sympathetic story of an early life of hope, of those he loved and of a growing outrage at injustice.

Gently, he coaxes us into agreement. Who wouldn’t object to their country being occupied? Hands up, he says, those who would join the resistance if Wales was occupied by foreign troops. (Some did put up their hands.) Shouldn’t a country have the right to self-determination? Isn’t there something wrong with so many people living in desperate poverty in Saudi Arabia while its US puppet rulers live in such wealth?

The story is often accompanied by upbeat Hollywood music such as the theme from Lawrence of Arabia.

You can even see after a time some audience members nodding and at the end the woman from New York sitting beside me said she had to go away and do her research.

Of course the show skips Bin laden’s cruelty, his prejudices and when speaking about the Twin Towers makes no mention of the thousands of civilians murdered in the attack.

This very imaginative performance slants the story to make a point.

As long as there is a reason for heroes or villains then they will be created. As Bin Laden explains to us, in terms of the struggle it doesn’t matter that he has died. He lives on as a heroic idea.

The imperialism of the United States needs Bin Laden to be a monster. Some of those resisting the US need him to be a George Washington or a Winston Churchill. It depends on your point of view.