Whistleblower, written by Richard Roques, returns to Waterloo East Theatre after a successful run in 2014. This play tells the story of Snowden who exposed the extent of government surveillance of civilians in the summer of 2013.
The play begins with Snowden holed up in a Hong Kong hotel room, haunted by the words of his girlfriend, parents and other whistleblowers. His story starts as a rookie recruit, eager to defend his country in the war in Iraq. His skills with computers lead him to a role in the National Security Agency and from there deeper into the world of surveillance. As he sees more and more he begins to question the means and motives and his faith in his country is tested.
The cast of nine play many roles through the play. Ruari Cannon is convincing as Snowden throughout, from young army recruit to awkward nerd, caring boyfriend and son to ‘the most wanted man in the world’. This story has lowly analysts, senior government officers from the UK and USA, journalists and Snowden’s family; there is plenty to work with here.
There is a lot of noise and movement in this play; the small stage is sometimes filled with the entire cast, sometimes just two characters. The actors move from the stage and sit with the audience, engaging us with the action and the discussion, most strikingly in a scene where the NRA is seeking access to data from the giant global corporations.
The action in this play moves around the globe, locations are identified on a map projected on the back wall. The set is simple, cubes on the stage act as tables, chairs and beds with rows of computers framing each side, a fitting inclusion as computers are central to this tale.
Snowden says he did not blow the whistle with the aim of becoming rich and famous. He did not want to be the main story; however, his story is a fascinating one. He may not get his wish to avoid the limelight; Hollywood is already circling his tale.
This story does not end when the lights go up, Edward Snowden is still in Russia and the revelations of the scale of government surveillance continue. Whether you agree with this version of Snowden or not, this play will get you talking.
Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
Photo: Miles Elliot
The Whistleblower is playing at the Waterloo East Theatre until 6 March 2016