edited by Richard Norton-Taylor.
Tricycle Theatre 269 Kilburn High Road NW6 7JR To 2 July 2011.
Mon-Sat 8pm Mat Sat 4pm & 15, 22, 29 June 2pm.
Post-show Discussion Thursdays.
Runs 1hr 50min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7328 1000.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 6 June.
Death in Basra and responsibility evaded in high places.
On 15 September 2003 an Iraqi called Baha Mousa died in Basra. Along with other men he had been detained by the British army, and had spent much of his two days in detention hooded, kicked and punched, shouted at, and forced to adopt a ‘stress position’, while being deprived of sleep and sufficient nourishment. Many of the soldiers involved were, or had very recently been, teenagers. It seems there was no intention to kill Mr Mousa, but his constitution could not survive their mistreatment.
Recently, a popular sergeant and others had been killed by Iraqi insurgents. The temperature was baking (58 degrees), which makes armchair judgments from England difficult. A corporal, a decade older than most other soldiers, was dismissed and imprisoned for a year on account of this death.
None of which brings Baha Mousa back to life, or heals the grief for his family. Nor undoes the treatment of other detainees, one of whom has his testimony enacted on video, for he had broken down giving evidence to the enquiry set up under Sir William Gage in 2009, and due to report on 8 September this year.
Guardian journalist Richard Norton-Taylor has again achieved a sense of coherence in selecting material from the Gage enquiry to form a crisp 110-minute crescendo through the ranks, including the sacked corporal, to a government minister whose evasions and denials of knowledge or responsibility for anything very much (standards operating procedure in politics these days), raise questions as to what the words “Right” and “Honourable” in his title mean.
Than goodness for the recent chance to see A Walk On Part at Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s Live Theatre; Chris Mullins’ Diaries remind that humility, self-deprecation and honesty can exist in politics. It, like this latest in Nicolas Kent’s scrupulously staged and unshowily acted ‘tribunal dramas’ recreating public-interest inquiries, show theatre directly connecting political processes with the people they govern.
Thomas Wheatley’s punctilious, polite counsel, asking the questions, and Dean Ashton’s bullying corporal, his admissions textured by a curt voice and slouching posture on the edge of defiance, stand out even in this fine-tuned cast.
Sir William Gage: Alan Parnaby.
Gerard Elias: Thomas Wheatley.
Detainee 002: Lewis Alsamari.
Detainee 002’s Interpreter: Khalid Laith.
Psychiatrist: Daniel Rabin.
Interpreter/Major Michael Peebles: Rick Warden.
Aaron Cooper: Luke Harris.
Adrian Redfearn: Mark Stobbart.
Craig Rodgers: Christopher Fox.
Donald Payne: Dean Ashton.
Lt Colonel Nicholas Mercer: David Michaels.
Rt Hon Adam Ingram MP: Simon Rouse.
Lawyers/Stenographer: Richard Mark, Kate Marlais, Param Sandhu.
Director: Nicolas Kent.
Designer: Polly Sullivan.
Lighting: Charlie Hayday.
Sound/AV: Ed Borgnis.
Assistant director: Sophie Lifschutz.