"But what crimes, what? What crimes? Why won't you say exactly what the crimes are? Admit what? What? What?"
On 3 April 2011, as he was boarding a flight to Taipei, the Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei was arrested at Beijing Airport. Advised merely that his travel “could damage state security”, he was escorted to a van by officials after which he disappeared for 81 days. On his release, the government claimed that his imprisonment related to tax evasion.
Howard Brenton’s play is based on conversations with Ai in which he told the story of that imprisonment – by turns surreal, hilarious, and terrifying. A portrait of the Artist in extreme conditions, it is also an affirmation of the centrality of Art and of freedom of speech in civilised society.
Directed by James Macdonald (who also directed Hampstead Theatre At Home production Wild) and starring Benedict Wong as Ai Weiwei (Doctor Strange, The Personal History of David Copperfield, Black Mirror, The Martian).