Only Free Men
“No man ought to be molested on account of his opinions…” (Thomas Paine)
Two interrogators struggle to find out whether a British Doctor, arrested on suspicion of terrorism, knows anything which might prevent an atrocity. But how can they possibly determine where mere talk ends, and lethal acts begin? Though the interrogators know he is the son of a successful immigrant, they know little else. And he constantly undermines them with his thoughtful anti-Western views.
Just how much free speech can there be in our new, truly globalised society?
“Riveting power”, wrote one critic. “Raises fundamental questions”, said another. “Powerful drama” (Brighton Evening Argus).
‘Only Free Men’ was recently translated by the Union of Iranian Playwrights for performance in Iran.
This was a very strong presentation (and rightly so) for the 2009 Thomas Paine Festival. One only had to look at the programme cover to realise that the implications of this piece were going to be of a shocking psychological nature.
An excellent performance from James Firth-Haydon as Abe. This character must have been involved in 9/11 and was obviously still coming to terms with those terrible events. The question is: should he have been taking part in this interrogation in his state of mind? However, interrogator he certainly was and kept the proceedings going at a cracking pace.
A good performance also from Caroline Johannson as Abe’s interrogating partner, Diana. Sometimes, however, her words were lost maybe due to a tendency to lower her head. This certainly didn’t happen all the time and her strong character came through well. Michael Fitzgerald as the Police Officer portrayed a touch of comedy regarding his bad feet! Almost a cameo part.
Phil Dunn as the suspect certainly used his right to freedom of speech and gave us all a lot to think about. He portrayed this character so well.
Christine Murphy as Control was the essence of control and her words near to the conclusion of the piece, “He must be guilty of something” gave us an uncomfortable feeling.
The “one violent act” was carried out very realistically and the plain set served well as a room where this type of interview (that’s a very bland word for what actually happened) takes place.
Thanks are due to the cast, the production team and of course, V R Morse, for bringing this thought provoking play to our attention, particularly in the times in which we live.
Brenda Gower Representative for the National Operatic & Dramatic Association