Review: ★★★★ #WEAREARRESTED, Arcola Theatre

Review: ★★★★ #WEAREARRESTED, Arcola Theatre

In an age that is rife with secrecy, corruption, fake news and criminal activity, the world needs people who will speak the truth no matter the price. Based on Can Dündar’s memoir of the same name, #WeAreArrested details the real-life story of a newspaper editor sentenced to jail after exposing arms deals.

Adapted by Pippa Hill and Sophie Ivatts – using Feyza Howell’s English translation – the first person narration from Dündar’s book is kept intact, with Can (Peter Hamilton Dyer) using direct address to speak to the crowd; creating the same direct conversational link on stage, between character and audience, as on page, between writer and reader. Prose is translated into movement by Ingrid Mackinnon; creating a clear physical language that lends flow and structure to Ivatt’s naturalistic direction, driving the story-telling through various jumps in place, location and time. Charlie Cridlan’s singular set piece – a table, etched with words – is at first glance reflective of the sparse and basic conditions of solitary confinement, however, words hold power and imagination takes flight, as it transforms to create the building blocks of the story.

Focused attention can be challenging when handling naturalism on stage, and John Bulleid’s elements of magic are a welcome addition, introducing non-naturalistic methods to highlight the power in dreaming and creativity. While Dyer shines as the courageous journalist fighting for truth, Jamie Cameron and Indra Ové, who adopt various characters throughout the piece, seem some-what underutilised, and although the decision to make #WeAreArrested a universal story makes sense, the removal of the location proves at times confusing, and risks generalising Dündar’s powerful story.

A piece rooted in humanity and human connection, #WeAreArrested is hopefully the start of many co-productions between the RSC and the Arcola Theatre. A promising and exciting collaboration!

#WeAreArrested runs from 13th November – 7th December at The Arcola Theatre.

 

 

Chloe Hoey

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