A new play adapted by Pippa Hill and Sophie Ivatts, from the book by by Can Dündar, We Are Arrested: A Journalist’s Notes from a Turkish Prison hits the Arcola theatre. #WeAreArrested marks the first co-production between the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Arcola Theatre. The consequences of reporting the truth in this new age of fake news is explored by Director Sophie Ivatts. Peter Hamilton Dyer (Downton Abbey, Holby, Dr Who) as Dundar is a rather untidy looking man, the figure of resistance and truth, gives a compelling performance as he recounts from his prison cell the events, which the Director keeps extremely faithful to the book. The play opens with Dyer addressing the audience “I used to have a very normal life. I used to live with my wife, and our son and our dog Cinnamon…”
That normal life was hilted when Dündar who was editor-in-chief of Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper, was arrested in November 2015 on charges of divulging state secrets and espionage. The crime was reporting the discovery of a covert arms shipment. The Cumhuriyet newspaper had uncovered footage of police intercepting several trucks sending medicines to Syria Hidden beneath boxes of medicines were weapons and the drivers it was discovered were part of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency. In the play there is no reference to Turkey just to the “President” which draws attention to the fact it could happen anywhere, although the Turkish regime is known for silencing journalists.
The play mostly set in the prison cell where Dundar creatively passes the time, writing, imagining brunch and defying the rules of the prison’s colour ban getting friends to send in letters on coloured paper add humour to this important story. He is supported by Indra Ove and Jamie Cameron a good fit as they play his wife and son and all the other roles fluidly. Ivatts’s “WeAreArrested” is an arresting piece of theatre that continues the conversation around freedom of speech. This adaption of “WeAreArrested” would be very much at home on the screen, the 75 minute play does the job but leaves you wanting more.
CAST: Son: Jamie Cameron.
Can: Peter Hamilton Dyer.
Wife: Indra Ove
‘WEAREARESSTED : The Arcola – Studio One, 2 Ashwin Street, London E8 5DL to 7 December 2019. TICKETS
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