The Theatreguide.London Review
Moore's new drama uses a familiar plot premise to make a fresh and
relevant point, though what is new about the play might have been
better served by a different vehicle.
British patrol in
Afghanistan have been ambushed, and have caught who they think is the
sniper. But rather than a native Taliban, he's a British Pakistani who
claims to have been innocently visiting his family and just ended up in
the wrong place at the wrong time.
story has some
credibility, but of course it is exactly what he would say if he were a
British Muslim who had been radicalised and joined the Taliban, leaving
the British soldier grieving for a dead buddy and the officer trying to
retain some order unsure what to do.
on one level we
have a premise at least as old as World War Two movies (and I'm certain
I've seen a similar play set in Vietnam) - what do we do with the
prisoner, and if we do what we want, will that make us as bad as the
Moore's significant new element comes near the end, when the prisoner is finally goaded into an anti-British outburst and we realise that this proves nothing, since what he says is what any totally innocent British Muslim might be driven to admit about his frustrations and resentments.
That point - that
regardless of this man's innocence or guilt, there may well be
thousands of others back home tenuously close to crossing the line - is
a good one, though you could wish that it were made in a less hackneyed
context and that it formed the centre of the play rather than a
is uneven throughout. It is legitimate for him never to reveal the
truth about the captive, but he only reaches an ending by inventing a
wholly new and spurious bit of suspense.
himself is given a teenager's "You know, like" inability to complete a
coherent sentence that grows very old very quickly - it can make you
more eager than the young soldier to shoot him - while both the officer
and an Afghan translator are underwritten plot devices and time fillers
more than realised characters.
Wright as the
officer and Josef Altin as the translator do what they can with the
very little they've been given, while director Mike Bradwell tries with
moderate success to disguise the clichés and weaknesses in the plot.
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The Empire - Royal Court 2010