Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Sons of the Prophet @ Hampstead Theatre... Review ->

Last Friday night Darce, Jonathan and I went to see Stephen Karam’s Pulitzer Prize nominated Sons of the Prophet at the Hampstead Theatre in London's glitzy Swiss Cottage.
Joseph (Irfan Shamji) and Charles (Eric Sirakian) are American Maronite Christian brothers from Lebanese descent, living in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. They also happen to both be gay. In a prank performed by high school footballer Vin (Raphael Akuwudike), a deer decoy is placed on the road, causing their father to swerve and end up in hospital. He dies a week later from a heart attack. But this is just one aspect of the story – Joseph is also suffering from chronic pain as a result of a mystery illness, which is baffling his doctors. Plus, their old-fashioned and cantankerous Uncle Bill (Raad Rawi) moves in with them, and he is slowly losing his independence due to aging and his comorbidities. Sounds like a barrel of laughs, right?  Well, it is.
The dark humour comes from the sons' grief being invaded; by Joseph's over-sharing boss Gloria (Juliet Cowan), by a stop-at-nothing gay reporter Timothy (Jack Holden) after Joseph's story, by Vin (also gay?) texting Charles ham-fistedly asking for forgiveness, and by a cast of other comedic characters all played by Holly Atkins and Sue Wallace.
The company are all good (though Shamji is the stand-out) and there is a natural, authentic feeling throughout the play of a family coping with the ludicrousness of the mechanics of grief. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments too - especially in the final section when all the characters come together for an ill-advised fourth-wall breaking truth and reconciliation showdown. 
Perhaps some alterations in direction would benefit the pacing as the play took a while to find its gear, but that said, there is much to enjoy here.
In particular having multiple queer characters on a main stage is still relatively unheard of and a refreshing treat, especially with their authentic portrayals. They are fully realised and dimensional, free from stereotypes, and have a personality outside of their sexuality. These are things that should be the norm, but unfortunately are not always well executed; therefore, this is something which should be applauded.

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