26 April 2009

The Great Game - Part Two

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 Two: Communism, The Mujahideen & The Taliban 1979-1996 comprises the following plays:

Black Tulips by David Edgar

1979, an army of a super-power invaded Afghanistan. Soviet troops were sent to combat backwardness and banditry, to defend women's rights, to build hospitals and schools. They thought they would all be home in a few months. The action takes place in 1987, 85, 84, 82 and 1981 in an Afghanistan briefing room for newly-arrived conscripts of the Soviet 40th Army.

Edgar is one of the UK's foremost political playwrights whose most recent play, Testing The Echo, played at the Tricycle theatre in 2008.
Commander - Daniel Betts
1st Deputy - Tom McKay
1st Representative - Ramon Tikaram
Interpreter - Jemima Rooper
Rifleman - Hugh Skinner
Captain - Vincent Ebrahim
Ensign - Rick Warden
Angry Major - Michael Cochrane
2nd Representative - Paul Bhattacharjee
2nd Deputy - Sagar Arya
Nahid - Lolita Chakrabarti
Meena - Sheena Bhattesssa

Directed by Nicholas Kent

This was a wonderful platform for debate. Beautifully written and very funny. Michael Cochrane was amazing again but all the cast are so strong it seems terrible to single someone out.

This was followed by another moving monologue performed by Lolita Chakrabarti & directed by Indhu Rubashingham
Blood And Gifts by J T Rogers

Two Afghans have risked their lives crossing the Pakistan/Afghanistan border to meet with two Americans in a safehouse. The aim is to negotiate arms but the Americans' offer of Enfield rifles, radio equipment and medical supplies is considered by the Afghans insufficient to repel the Russians. The action takes place in 1981 in The Frontier Province, Pakistan, 1986 in Washington DC and 1988 near Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

Rogers's plays include The Overwhelming, Madagascar and White People.
Congressional Aide - Jemima Rooper
Soldier - Hugh Skinner
Abdullah - Vincent Ebrahim
Jim - Rick Warden
Saaid - Danny Rahim

Directed by Rachel Grunwald

Another engaging piece & I was reminded of the tv drama Endgame which I saw last week. Jim 'doesn't exist' but his actions are instrumental in the repatriation. Wonderfully observed.

Miniskirts Of Kabul by David Greig

1996: The Taliban are closing in on Kabul: shells and rockets are exploding around the capital. A woman is interviewing President Najibullah, who has sought refuge in the UN compound. He talks about fashion, communism, torture and whisky, but time is running out.

Greig's numerous plays include The American Pilot, Ramallah and Damascus, which played at the Tricycle in 2009, plus several plays for the Donmar Warehouse including a version of Strindberg's Creditors, which played there in 2008.

Writer - Jemima Rooper
Najibullah - Ramon Tikaram

Directed by Indhu Rubashingham

This piece was simply poetic. It was clear & to the point, funny and beautifully performed. Quite apart from the information given, there were fun interludes, one of which involved both characters dancing to a Spice Girls video. Jemima and Ramon were on fire & I could happily watch this piece again. It made me think that these pieces could easily be dotted around a tv schedule. If people can absorb information like this in snack-sized pieces they seem to retain the important information for longer and are more moved to react.

This was followed by a Duologue set in Herat, 1996 with Mohammed Masha again and a Taliban leader played by Danny Rahim. Other members of the company were Taliban and Nicholas Kent directed this one.

The Lion Of Kabul by Colin Teevan

Two Afghan aid workers disappear while distributing rice. Rabia, their UN Director of Operations, is determined to discover what has happened to them. The problem is her organisation does not recognise the Taliban, and the Taliban does not recognise her. She seeks justice but who is to dispense it? Set in Kabul, 1998

Teevan wrote the Young Vic's Christmas show Amazonia and his adaptation of Kafka's Monkey plays there in March 2009. His other work includes How Many Miles to Basra?, The Diver And The Bee and The Walls.
Rabia - Lolita Chakrabarti
Ismael - Paul Bhattacharjee
Khan - Nabil Elouahabi
Herati - Ramon Tikaram
Guard - Sagar Arya
Guard - Vincent Ebrahim
Prisoner - Danny Rahim
Prisoner - Hugh Skinner

Directed by Indhu Rubashingham

I'm not sure the lion's cage worked too well here but what can you do? Ms Chakrabarti was wonderful.

I am still trying to find the right pictures for each part but sadly failing.

Interviews with Lolita Chakrabarti and Jemima Rooper.