MULTI-award-winning playwright HENRY NAYLOR returns to Edinburgh Festival Fringe with a new play which pits a journalist against the convoluted and complicated legacy of Britain’s war on terror and interrogates the modern discourse surrounding “them” and “us”.
The Nights is the fifth instalment in Henry Naylor’s Arabian Nightmares series; each play examines different aspects of the changing relationship between the West and the Middle East in the years after 9/11.
Taking Shamima Begum’s appeal to return to the UK following the fall of the Islamic State in 2019 as his starting point, Naylor asks the audience to consider what criteria we should use to determine whether her rights, and the rights of others like her, should be weighed.
This is a tense and tightly choreographed production. Each word and gesture seems to have been carefully thought out and gives the play an almost balletic flow. There are a few nuggets of humour scattered strategically throughout the script to relieve the tension and this is very welcome at times as the play deals with some dark themes.
Carter, played by award-winning actress CAITLIN THORBURN makes an unsympathetic lead as an Islamophobia journalist hunting for her next scoop.
Her character is often less than scrupulous and ethically and morally challenged. Her confrontations with veteran Kane,and the shattering of her assumptions and prejudices is portrayed convincingly and humanely.
Henry Naylor himself takes on the role of Kane, a veteran of the Iraq war who is still struggling with the past. His anger at the world and at man’s inhumanity to man is palpable and does much of the work in making this a particularly visceral watch.
He and Thorburn make an electrifying team, as they each take turns in driving the narrative.
The downside is that Naylor’s script is so dense with ideas that it becomes a little difficult to discern who actually believes what. This is not helped by the fact that Carter and Kane both speak in exactly the same way, using the same word choice and turns of phrase, revealing them as pastiches written by the same man rather than distinct flesh-and-blood characters. This somewhat undercuts the play’s attempts to create a realistic conflict but not enough to make this a less than worthwhile watch.
Venue: Gilded Balloon Teviot
Time: 16:15 (60 mins)
Dates: 21 – 26 Aug
Tickets: £11.00 – £14.00
Bookings: Here | Gilded Balloon Box Offices | 0131 622 6552