26 April 2009

The Great Game - Part Three

Unashamedly copied from The Official London Theatre Guide....

The Great Game: Afghanistan is a festival exploring Afghan culture and history through a series of specially commissioned plays, readings, exhibitions and discussions, running from 17 April to 14 June.

Tricycle theatre Artistic Director Nicolas Kent said: “The aim of the festival is to help audiences understand more about Afghanistan, and to open up debate, appreciation and discussion on Afghanistan’s importance to Britain as we move into the second decade of the 21st century.”
Part Three: Enduring Freedom 1996-2009, which plays in repertoire with the other two parts, brings the history of the country up to date with four new plays. They are:

Honey by Ben Ockrent

While civil war rages, a lone CIA agent realises the dangers of American disengagement. He has found an 'in' to persuade Commander Masoud, the Lion of Panjshir, to help get them back into the game. But with the Taliban closing in on Kabul, will it be enough? The action takes place in 1996 at the Islamabad US Embassy; 1996 in Massoud's Office, Kabul; Sept 8th, 2001 in Northern Afghanistan Massoud's bedroom; 9th September, 2001 in another room at the same house.

Ockrent is a playwright and screenwriter whose first play was The Pleasure Principle.
Masood Khalili - Vincent Ebrahim
Robin Raphael - Jemma Redgrave
Gary Schroen - Michael Cochrane
Ahmad Shah Massoud - Paul Bhattacharjee
Attendant - Ramon Tikaram
Reporter - Danny Rahim
Cameraman - Sagar Arya

Directed by Nicholas Kent

I have no idea why I didn't make any notes about this but so I'll read the text to refresh my memory.

The Night Is Darkest Before The Dawn by Abi Morgan

The widowed Huma is trying to reopen her husband's school following the American bombing and 'liberation' of Afghanistan. However, she needs to persuade six more girls to attend. But Behrukh's father is more concerned with his opium crop and who will harvest it. This is set in the country side, south of Kandahar, April 2002.

Morgan's plays include Skinned, Sleeping Around, Tiny Dynamite, Tender, Splendour and Fugee. Her television work includes Tsunami - The Aftermath, White Girl and Sex Traffic.

Minoo - Jemima Rooper
Huma - Lolita Chakrabarti
Alex - Daniel Betts
Omaid - Ramon Tikaram
Berukh - Sheena Bhattessa
Elmar - Sagar Arya
Tribesman - Paul Bhattacharjee
Tribesman - Vincent Ebrahim
Tribesman - Danny Rahim

Directed by Nicholas Kent

This was the other piece in the day that didn't get any applause. Abi Morgan is incredible when she is on form but perhaps this was not one of those occasions. I can't put my finger on what did not work but it seemed clunky. The actors made the best of it, though and it did communicate it's own issue perfectly well. Someone must think this was a good piece because there are more pictures around. Perhaps the cast were flagging but it didn't seem that way. Wish I could remember what didn't work for me.

Verbatim Edited Richard Norton Taylor

Richard Norton Taylor joined The Guardian in 1975 as Europe correspondent based in Brussells and in 1998 he was appointed Security Affairs Editor. With John McGrath he wrote Half The Picture, an adaptation of the Scott inquiry, which was presented at the Tricycle, Houses of Parliament, and on BBC2, and won a Freedom of Information Campaign Award and TIme Out Drama Award. Since then he has just edited most of the tribunal plays at the Tricycle including: Nuremberg, The Colour of Jusitice, Justifying War, Bloody Sunday (winner of an Olivier Award), and Called to Account - all ow which were later broadcast by the BBC.
Ashraf Ghani - Ramon Tikaram
General Sir David Richards - Rick Warden
Matthew Waldman - Tom McKay
Ahmed Rashid - Paul Bhattercharjee

Directed by Nicholas Kent
On The Side Of The Angels by Richard Bean

Jackie and Graham are working for Direct Action World Poverty, east of Herat. They are thrown together to work on a new project about land rights. In trying to help and settle local disputes, the results are not what they expected, as Bollywood, women's rights and tribal disputes create a toxic mix.

Bean is the author of plays including The English Game, In The Club, Harvest, Toast, The God Botherers and England People Very Nice, which is currently playing at the National Theatre.
Fiona - Jemima Rooper
Jackie - Jemma Redgrave
Jonathan - Daniel Betts
Graham - Tom McKay
Jalaluddin - Nabil Elouahabi
Dawood - Ramon Tikaram
Tribesman - Vincent Ebrahim
Tribesman - Danny Rahim

Directed by Indhu Rubasingham

Verbatim Edited Richard Norton Taylor
Masood Khalili - Vincent Ebrahim
Mullah Abdullah Ghazni - Sagar Arya
General Sir David Richards - Rick Warden
Clare Lockhart - Jemma Redgrave
RIchard Holbrooke - Michael Cochrane

Directed by Nicholas Kent

Canopy Of Stars by Simon Stephens

In a bunker guarding the Kajaki Dam, two soldiers talk of chips and gravy, football, women and whether the British should start to negotiate with the Taliban insurgents. This is a searing insight into soldiers at war and what happens when they go home. The play is set in a bunker ner the peripheries of the Kajaki Dam, then during an army action in Helmand and finally in the front room of a house in Levenshulme, south Manchester.

Laurence Olivier Award-winning playwright Stephens is the author of Motortown, Port, One Minute, On The Shore Of The Wide World and Harper Regan.
Sergeant Jay Watkins - Tom McKay
Richard Kendall - Hugh Skinner
Soldiers - Danny Rahim, Daniel Betts, Rick Warden
Medic - Jemma Redgrave
Cheryl - Jemima Rooper

Directed by Nicholas Kent

Be warned that there is some really serious shellfire in this one!


Interviews with Lolitta Chakrabati and Jemima Rooper.

What's On Stage