A History of Water in the Middle East by Sabrina Mahfouz. Jerwood Upstairs, the Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London SW1 to 16 November. 4****. William Russell.

A History of Water in the Middle East
By Sabrina Mahfouz.
Royal Court Theatre – Jerwood Upstairs, Sloane Square, London SW1 8AS to 16 November 2019.
Mon – Sat 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 3pm.
Runs 70 Mins No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7565 5000
Review: William Russell 15 October.
Water has something to do with it all, but this illustrated lecture delivered vy Sabrina Mahfouz aided by Laura Hanna, who also sings, and Kareem Samara, who plays various musical instruments, is about more than water, important though the rivers of the Middle East are. It is also a cry of rage at lines drawn in the sand by people who have no idea what effect these lines will have on those who live there, but know exactly what the effect they want for themselves – and Britain is one of the worst offenders, although other nations have done it, and still are. The world is living with what Britain did for imperial purposes and what Russia is now doing for much the same reasons. The trio make engaging lecturers, and, lectures being generally pretty dry Sabrina says she thought she would have a bit of a gig instead. Laura is there because she can’t sing. She also recounts what happened when aged 24 she was asked to apply to be a spy – for us, of course. The result is not quite a meeting of minds with the spy played with relish by David Mumeni. The two women are Egyptian, although with international backgrounds, which is partly why Sabrina gets asked – she might have access other people would not to secrets, to information. It is handsomely staged, there are some stunning back projections to add to the information we get from the players and it is a not exactly comfortable evening for those who believe imperial Britain was totally a force for good in the world and forget it was a great trading nation fixing things to suit itself. She doesn’t get the job. At the end she admits without the British Empire none of them would have been on this stage but that is not to say we have to keep using its old rules – and then tells us what Hans Sloane’s legacy was built upon. A challenging, angry and well worth listening to lecture delivered and illustrated with style.
Laura: Laura Hanna.
Sabrina: Sabrina Mahfouz.
Spy: David Mumeni.
Kareem: Kareem Samara.

Director: Stef O’Driscoll.
Designer: Khadija Raza.
Lighting Designer: Prema Mehta.
Composer: Kareem Samara.
Sound Designer: Dominic Kennedy.
Movement Director: Maria Koripas.
Video Designer: Charil Davis.
Assistant Director: Masha Kevinovna.
Costume Supervisor: Bex Kemp.
Production Photography: Craig Sugden.

Director: Stef O’Driscoll
Production photography: Craig Sugdon.

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