The final performance of 'Wild' will be live streamed on Saturday July 23 at 7.30pm, and be available online for 72 hours after. See hampsteadtheatre.com for more details
Is Mike Bartlett trolling us? Having delivered an actual proper magnum opus with 2014's ‘King Charles III’, then followed up with last year’s big telly hit 'Doctor Foster’, the mercurial playwright can pretty much do what he wants. And clearly what he wants on some level is to take the piss with ‘Wild’, a short, maddening, enjoyable three-hander that takes the basics of the Edward Snowden story and then goes somewhere very strange with it.
Andrew (Jack Farthing) is to all intents and purposes Edward Snowden - a dweeby, young-ish American who has fled his country after leaking masses of government secrets to the press, holed up in Hong Kong for a bit, and is now effectively trapped in Russia.
Deadpan and self-assured, he doesn't seem too phased about being stuck in a bland Moscow hotel room until he's approached by two people claiming to be from (what we assume to be) Wikileaks. There's a woman (Caoilfhionn Dunn) and a man (John MacKay), both claiming to be called George, who visit him separately and deny any knowledge of each other. He's a glum, fatalistic Scot. She's a very eccentric Irishwoman, teetering between 'loveable goofy’ and ‘sociopath’. They toy with Andrew, at length, stoking his paranoia, teasing him, mocking him, promising to get him out of his current mess if he’ll pledge loyalty to their cause. Andrew is suspicious. Female George does something drastic to prove her seriousness. A glittery cowboy hat gets worn. Then there's a final scene so batshit mental it's basically impossible to discuss without ruining everything.
A cackling cocktail of Cold War conspiracy thriller, ‘The Prisoner’, and a very pop culture savvy Pinter play, ‘Wild’ questions the very nature of freedom, but does it in such a glib fashion it's hard to take it all that seriously. I enjoyed it, especially the climax, which really has to be seen to be believed (massive shout out to set designer Miriam Buether, doing a lot with a modest budget). But the sense that Bartlett is basically taking the piss rather subverts the play's more serious edge.