REVIEW: The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning, National Theatre Wales
REVIEW The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning
National Theatre Wales
Written by Tim Price
Directed by John E McGrath
HOW a former Haverfordwest schoolboy has found himself at the heart of one of the world’s biggest stories in the internet age is a question being asked by many.
National Theatre Wales’ latest project is a fictionalised account of incarcerated US soldier Bradley Manning’s life.
Flitting between his schooldays at Tasker Milward School, life in America and the military, his alleged leaking of classified material and subsequent incarceration, this is an action packed, slickly choreographed performance that incorporates light, sound and movement to great effect.
Disorientation is a key theme. Graphic scenes of the kind of treatment Manning is believed to have endured while in custody certainly bring home the plight of a young man who many believe is a martyr of our times.
From the moment the audience set foot in Tasker Milward School, where the play opened, noise, props and theatrical staging were put to good effect to get the audience in the mood.
Performed in the round in the upper school hall, the six actors remain in the zone throughout, running in and out of centre stage as they change props and costumes for scenes in the school, Iraq, US and military prison. Each takes on the Manning role at some stage.
TV monitors and screens, lighting and sound are used for atmospheric effect and to help the audience keep track of location for the scene.
Each of the actors takes on the Manning role at some point in scenes that if nothing else will make you think.
Scenes in Tasker Milward clearly suggest that history lessons on the Rebecca Riots, Dic Penderyn and Chartism could have contributed to Manning’s view of the world.
This is certainly a work of fiction inspired by a true story and doesn’t pretend to be anything else, but it is one that is designed to make its audience think.
Manning has been variously described as a traitor, ‘prisoner of conscious’ and even nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and we don’t yet know much of the real story and how it ends.
Whatever your views on Manning’s alleged actions and his treatment past and present, and indeed whether the time is yet really right for such a production, this is a piece of thought-provoking theatre that if nothing else brings home that Manning is a real person and a very young human being who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances.
The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning continues until Saturday April 28th. Some performances are available to view online live via CCTV cameras on set, with further interactive features. Go to http://nationaltheatrewales.org/bradleymanning/
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