by Liwaa Yazji.
Translated by Katherine Halls.
The Royal Court theatre, Sloane Square, London SW1W 8AS to 30 December 2017.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm/
Runs 2hr 35 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7565 5000.
Review: William Russell 30 November
Life on the home front in Assad’s Syria
This is very much a companion piece to Bad Roads running concurrently in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court. That was about the plight of civilians caught up in war in the Ukraine, this is about civilians in Syria living in the relative safety of the part of that country controlled by the Assad regime. It is about the parents of the men sent to fight the terrorists, many of whom have been killed and are martyrs for the cause, about the mothers and fathers confronted with their coffins, the wives and the young men yet to be called up. It is about how a regime controls the thoughts and lives of its people, doctors its state television coverage, controls who is allowed to work, listens to what is said, and tries to instil in the people the belief that right is on its side.
As a play like the one upstairs it is a bit of a mess, Individual moments are powerful, individual speeches hit home, and the cast could really not be bettered, with Carlos Chahine giving an impressive performance as Abu Firas the father tortured by the fact he cannot see his dead martyr son’s corpse as Sharia law allows – who knows whose body is in that coffin.
As the local party boss who dreams up the plan which gives the name to the play, namely that the family of martyrs will be given a goat to keep, Amer Hlehel creates a fine study in pure devious nastiness, a man who will stoop to anything to achieve his ends – which are to protect his own position.
The play is handsomely staged, there are hugely effective video transmissions and the performances, give or takes a little difficulty with the clarity of diction in some cases, are all admirable. But the gimmick, which is to have five live goats taking part, is really a gimmick too far. The goats are handsome animals and behave impeccably – no verdict is passed on the play as did the horse when Atlanta burned in Gone With the Wind – but waiting for an accident to occur does distract from the seriousness of the evening. Goats has a lot to say, and a lot to say worth saying, but most of it could be said far more effectively in print.
Jude: Ali Barouti.
Imm Nabil: Ishia Bennison.
Abu Firas: Carlos Chahine.
Adnan: Amir El-Masry.
Imm Ghassan: Souad Faress.
Abu al-Tayyib: Amer Hlehel.
Mudar: Ethan Kai.
Abu Karim: Khalid Laith.
Fadi: Adnan Mustafa.
Zahara: Isabella Nefar.
Sami: Farshid Rokey.
The Presenter/ Imm al-Tayyib: Sirine Saba.
Director: Hamish Pirie:
Designer: Rosie Elnile.
Video Designer: Ian William Galloway.
Lighting Designer: Muraz A;jubeh.
Music Consultants: Mark Geris & Riazan Said.
Sound Designer: Tom Gibbons.
Movement Director: Quang Kien Van.
Vocal Coach: Hugh O’Shea.
Fight Director: Bret Young.