Last year, Barack Obama said that sport is “one of the big unifiers”. For example, when someone has a team allegiance it somehow makes them more familiar – less otherly and terrifying. Just consider how different public opinion may have been if Osama bin Laden had recorded videos in his Arsenal top. Similarly, it’s the manufactured alterity that Knaive Theatre are trying combat in their latest production Bin Laden: The One Man Show.
With just tea, biscuits and a flip chart, Sam Redway delivers this trenchantly understated polemic against the culture fear that has developed in the post-9/11 world. Speaking as the big-man himself (he was 6ft 4in), Redway tells bin Laden’s story with an eager earnestness, from his youth as the rich son a Saudi construction magnate to his final years as Al-Qaeda poster-boy. What this whole set-up does perfectly, is return to bin Laden the human element extirpated by domestic propaganda. It gives him that third, often neglected dimension and explains in detail his rationale and motivation. The play’s subject is nothing ground-breaking in this regard – Adam Curtis did the same job in The Power of Nightmares. However, this doesn’t lessen the piece’s importance, intellect or courage.