Theatre review: Bin Laden: The One Man Show

Edinburgh Fringe Scotsman review: Bin Laden: The One Man Show at PC Nova (Venue 145), reviewed by Matt Trueman

The last thing you expect of Bin Laden: The One Man Show is a well-spoken young Englishman politely offering tea and biscuits to his audience. (So much so, I double-checked with an usher.) He asks if we want to see a better world, if we’re satisfied with the current government. Most of us aren’t. Then he introduces himself: “My name is Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden.”

Sam Redway never pretends to be bin Laden, he stands in for him and, in doing so, forces us to look afresh. He speaks to us directly, as if giving a public lecture seeking recruits. When he talks of fighting the Russians in Afghanistan, he dons a green plastic Second World War-style helmet. When he falls in love, he does so to a Westlife song. The result is a different truth, a version we never get to see, free from projection, indoctrination and cartoon villainy.

Kna├»ve Theatre absolutely live up to their name and this isn’t the finished article by any means – they should commit to the lecture format, for example – but it’s nonetheless the workings of great theatre minds in the making. Redway and collaborator Toby Tyrrell-Jones get your attention and hold it. That their title intentionally seeks out the “wrong” audience isn’t just inspired, it’s brave. More power to their elbows.

MORE INFO: Bin Laden: The One Man Show at C Nova (Venue 145), until 26 August

Originally published in The Scotsman