Written by Tim Price
Performed by Youth Everyman Playhouse (YEP)
At Liverpool Playhouse Studio
3rd – 5th November 2016
Reviewed by Colin Serjent
What I find staggering about the story of Bradley Manning is how a somewhat shy lad, but a mite rebellious against teachers, from a secondary school in Haverfordwest in Wales can end up eight years later sentenced to 40 years imprisonment for violating the American Espionage Act after disclosing 700,000 secret military and state departments documents to WikiLeaks, whilst serving as an army intelligence analyst in Iraq.
The day before I saw this play it was disclosed that Manning (now with the Christian name of Chelsea – she is now receiving treatment for her gender dysphoria) had attempted suicide for the second time in recent months, due mainly to the solitary confinement she has to endure.
The production is perfectly suited to the Playhouse Studio. It would not have worked on a bigger stage, particularly the enactment of Manning’s solitary confinement scenes.
Many of the YEP cast, both male and female, took the role, portraying him/her at different times of his/her life, including the five years he spent at a Welsh school, before returning to America with his mother in 2005 at the age of 17.
Designer Heledd Rees commented that the main inspiration for the set “came from looking at images of cyber-databases and what it would look like inside one.”
All the actors wore what Rees described as “gender neutral costumes.”
Shortly after being incarcerated Manning described why he chose to disclose such a mass of classified information. “I did so out of love for our country and a sense of duty for others. If you deny my request for a pardon I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society.”
Once again the outstanding YEP company turned in another memorable production.