The date is 11th May 2005 and the Iraq War is no longer having the initial success that it had after destroying Sadam Hussain's regime. In a camp in Basra, Mohammed bin Osama bin Laden (Radostin Radev) is captured and under interrogation by commander James Farrell (Alexander Forrester-Coles), the good cop of the story, and Dan (Chris Tyler), a Lieutenant, very much of the bad cop variety.
It's an ugly, but also a very vivid tale, claustrophobic and always intimidating. When the actors are not churning through the intimidation and attempt to break both Bin Laden, and us the audience, a cleverly constructed collection of video spreads further pain upon the audience. It's all very uncomfortable but brilliant as a result.
Then we reach the final sequence where, if the audience isn't already broken, we have one of the most challenging sequences of physical violence that I have seen on stage. This is full intensity, full contact, "stage combat", it is at times very challenging to watch, not because of what is happening story-wise, but the uncomfortableness of whether the performers are actually safe. I wouldn't had wanted to be involved in the health and safety and disclaimers on this one.
Persecuted though was still an excellent piece of theatre, the cast sublime with the ever-reliable Forrester-Coles once again assured, and brilliantly controlled as his character required. Tyler not only
I admired Persecuted for its performances, and would never be disappointed for having seen it, however, that final scene will remain in my mind as a step too far. It was a poignant reminder also of a time period for the country as well, which set the scene for many problems to come.
Performance viewed: Friday 27th April 2018