REVIEW: Back of the throat, Old Red Lion Islington

PUBLISHED: 15:49 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:28 07 September 2010

Four star rating The subtelty required to balance the burden of national security while maintaining personal freedom is the essence of this thought-provoking drama. In the aftermath of a terrorist attack Khaled,

Back of the throat

Old Red Lion

Islington

Until October 11

Four star ratingequired to balance the burden of national security while maintaining personal freedom is the essence of this thought-provoking drama.

In the aftermath of a terrorist attack Khaled, an Arabian-born writer and American citizen, allows a pair of government agents into his apartment.

The agents, led by the aggressive Bartlett (Malcolm Freeman) and the seemingly placid Carl (Mark Curtis), are searching for an accomplice of Asfoor (Tom Kanji), an identified terrorist.

Khaled, played with confidence by the experienced Ameet Chana of EastEnders and Bend It Like Beckham fame, gladly attempts to help the officials with their enquiries.

But he is abruptly forced to rue his decision when a stash of 'suspicious' literature is discovered - a copy of the Koran, books on firearms and Islamic militancy and a stack of girlie magazines.

Khaled's attempt to justify their presence as research material is considered implausible and suspicions soar when the agents discover he has made inappropriate advances to librarian Shelly (Kira Lauren).

The misleadingly simple set cleverly uses a trio of wardrobe doors as an entry point for Khaled's ex-girlfriend Beth, lap-dancer Jean (both played by Lauren) and terrorist Asfoor to relay the story's background.

The strength of Arab American playwright Yussef El Guindi's award-winning offering is his ability to abstain throughout from providing a definitive answer to the accused's innocence or guilt.

By refraining from reaching a conclusion El Guindi forces the audience to recognise the variety of viewpoints and explanations for an individual's actions.

This cleverly scripted and well-acted play shows how easily guilt can be attributed to a person by a suspicious regime and an accurate, if dramatic, view of the post 9/11 world.

Simon Jackson

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