Bin Laden: The One Man Show

Sam Redway and Toby Tyrell Jones

Knaive Theatre

The Lab, Theatre Royal Plymouth

From 20 July 2017 to 22 July 2017

Review by Karen Bussell

It is often said that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter and this is the premise that Knaive Theatre (supported by the Royal Exchange Theatre) explores in the multi award-winning Bin Laden: The One Man Show.

Sam Redway is Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Aboud bin Laden al Qatani who, following tea and biscuits, will show us how to change the world.

And so unfolds an hour of insight and thought-provoking storytelling as the mild, well- educated and somewhat unassuming son of a rich Saudi businessman unpacks the background to his dedicated fight for Islam and his coronation as bogeyman puppet master and architect of US defeat.

Challenging the cookie-munching audience to discuss its dissatisfaction with British politics and how far it might go to resist oppression or occupation, a barefoot Redway is carefully paced and charming, feeding selected audience members lines to play wife and mentor in a light relief from the intense one-man, one-voiceness of the piece.

Armed only with a suit, thobe, AK 47 and teabags—oh and the all-important flipchart—Redway offers an insight to the mindset, sacrifice and belief of a man who felt demonised and manipulated by a Western world which gives voice to the Israeli Christians but silences and outcasts Muslim Palestinians; which reneges on deals struck to build roads to accord and betrays nations in its greed for oil, power and money.

Riding the wave of resistance to oppression in Iran and Somalia, and general unrest and civil war in the Middle East, bin Laden shares the six steps to The Flight To Freedom: motivation; action; coping with defeat; wanting it; risking big and winning big, and saving the day—particularly with exploding Bourbons.

Oddly engaging, and bringing pathos and sharp observation tinged with the odd boring saccharine moment and a bit of running about waving guns in a tin hat, and Redway, with co-writer, producer and techie Toby Tyrell Jones, has set the scene for some lively debate in the bar after the show. And all are invited.