2019 Fringe Festival Review: Bin Laden – The One Man Show

Image courtesy of Adelaide Fringe

What: Bin Laden: One Man Show

Who: Sam Redway and Tyrrell Jones

Where: The Studio at Holden Street Theatres 

When: See website for full details

What started out seemingly like a seminar for a motivational speech became an autobiographical account of the personal life of Bin Laden, as well as a brief history lesson on Islamic politics since the sixties. 

Sam Redway portrayed Bin Laden, he was charming, well spoken and articulate. He provided an incredibly powerful and evocative performance and bonded with the audience from the start, I was drawn to him the moment he handed me a biscuit to eat (win me over with food!). His interaction with the audience continued through incorporating a couple of people to perform along side him, costume and all. Redway made it feel as if we were meeting someone for the first time, who appeared to be nice in a conventional sense – approachable and likeable. 

This performance illustrated researched insight to Bin Laden’s personal life and character, providing a perspective we perhaps would not have considered otherwise. In contrast to how he is portrayed in Western society, this show strangely humanises him, and we have to consider that perhaps he was just a man who fell in love, had children and wanted to create a better world for them to live in. In this way we follow his journey, and see his perspective of the American involvement in the Middle East.

It underlines the bias of how he is depicted in the Western world. Rather than the western perspective of the atrocities that followed under Bin Laden’s influence, the focus is on Bin Laden’s motivation, drive and purpose for his views, and why he despises how America bullies and undermines his way of life. Almost providing a ‘justification’ for what we perceive as radical and extremist doctrine.

My own personal bias and upbringing in Australia heavily influence my perception of this performance. I was not convinced in seeing Bin Laden as a champion of freedom. Looking to previous historical events confirms that a society controlled by religion whether it be Islam or not, has been rejected. Furthermore the concept of having the character of Bin Laden embodied by a white man was disconcerting. Particularly when he chose to don the traditional and cultural clothing of Islamic persons made me uncomfortable. This was perhaps the point..

3/5 stars

– by Rachel Wong

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