Wednesday, 16 April 2008
Haneef: The Interrogation by Graham Pitts, April 16, 2008
Haneef: The Interrogation by Graham Pitts
La Mama, April 16 until May 3, 2008
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
It is difficult to resist the overwhelming desire to shout, “He didn’t say that, he didn’t mean that!” during Haneef: The Interrogation.
As one actor says, “The day after they come for me, they come for you.” The point is made clearly by writer Graham Pitts that any one of us could be detained and questioned indefinitely under Australian anti-terrorism laws.
Pitts is writer of numerous politically and socially challenging plays. In this script he incorporates the actual transcript of Indian doctor, Mohamed Haneef’s second interrogation by the Federal Police about his possible involvement with the London and Glasgow bombings in July 2007. It makes fascinating and though-provoking theatre.
However, Pitts writes more than simply a verbatim replay of the transcripts. The interrogation is interrupted sporadically when the two actors step out of role and argue about the morality and the legality of the new laws and about human rights issues that underscore this landmark case.
Director Gorkum Acaroglu focuses attention on the relationship between Haneef (Adam McConvell) and his interrogator (Simon King). McConvell is exceptional as the young doctor Haneef, capturing impeccably his polite reserve, confusion and his anxious squint. McConvell’s intermittent outbursts when he steps out of the role of Haneef voice the outrage expressed by some and alert us to the inconsistencies and misinterpretations embedded in the interview.
King portrays with integrity the police interrogator’s diligence and adherence to protocol. King also steps out of role to argue the case from another perspective and we are acutely aware of the fear and urgency under which he is operating. This is not a police bashing play but rather a further interrogation of the process by which Dr. Haneef was detained.
The play is even more disturbing knowing that Haneef was questioned from 4.15pm until the following morning and he answered 6,000 questions. He was under suspicion because one bomber was his second cousin and Haneef not only socialised with the bomber’s brother but left his old phone SIM card with him. It was purported to be at the bombsite but was actually found 100 miles away.
The evidence seems sketchy and tenuous – but make up your own mind about the issues when you see this confronting play.