"Rollercoaster ride of political theatre"
by Eleni Young for remotegoat on 19/07/14

Before June 2013, when Ed Snowden took to the world stage and unveiled thousands of classified documents, you would never have known his name. After June 2013, you would have seen his name and face splashed over every newspaper known to man. After a night at ‘Whistleblower,’ you not only get to know the man, but the girlfriend, the family and every key person involved in one of the biggest controversies in history.

Broken down into a chronological sequence of events, from Snowden’s job offer at the NSA, through to arriving at Sheremetyevo Airport, this is an ‘in yer face,’ rollercoaster ride of a production. ‘Whistleblower,’ is thought provoking, poignant, artistically clever, and above all, accessible to all, no matter what your knowledge is of the famous Ed Snowden.

Intelligently written, the cast bring this production to life with a raw burst of energy and finesse that’s certainly required for a political/biographical production. This isn’t just another political play that’s performed to you, it’s brought to you no holds barred and involves you in every moment.

Waterloo East Theatre is a unique space with a huge amount of potential and possibilities and it was wonderful to see it being used as this throughout the production. Either side of the stage lined with workers at their computers brings you crashing into the world of information, technology, and the insatiable world of surveillance. With cast taking on multiple characters, consistency in the plot is faultlessly maintained and for those who are not American, the accents were held well throughout. The use of a projection screen was an excellent way of keeping the audience on track as to where in the world the scene was taking place. You’ll travel around the world in this production.

If there was anything negative to comment on this production, it would be the use of music between scene changes. A great way to occupy an audience between scenes, the music wasn’t always 100% appropriate. Perhaps this was a way to continue the ‘controlled chaos’ of the production? Perhaps, just an odd choice? Whichever the reason, at times it could be distracting and on occasion a bit confusing. The use of blocks as stage props for chairs, tables, podiums and much more was fine, but at times, became a bit arduous to watch with the constant moving between scenes.

Addressing the audience and breaking character at the end was a bold, brave and human decision to make. Fast forward to the present, and the characters are no longer characters, but a cast unveiling the most recent events in surveillance that are happening here, now and potentially on your computer. It’s no longer a production about Ed Snowden, it’s a production about privacy, security and political leaders. It’s about the here and now and it’s about you.

To watch this production is a ‘tour de force,’ and with such fantastic writing, direction and cast I look forward to seeing my next production here.

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