CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Review: Cry Havoc, at Park Theatre 90

04 April, 2019 — By Lucy Popescu

James El-Sharawy in Cry Havoc. Photo: Lidia Crisafulli

TOM Coash’s engaging drama opens with Mohammed (James El-Sharawy), a young Egyptian, returning to his Cairo home after being brutally tortured in prison. He has been “punished” for his political activism and his sexual orientation.

While homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt, members of the LGBT community are routinely abused and at risk of arrest for “debauchery”.

Nicholas (Marc Antolin), a literature teacher and Mohammed’s British lover, wants to take him back to the safety of the UK.

While Mohammed nurses his wounds, Nick meets British Embassy official Ms Nevers (Karren Winchester) and persuades her to give him a visa and the necessary travel documents. But Mohammed is not sure if he wants to be “saved”. He has become increasingly radical in his outlook and is reluctant to leave his homeland and everything he holds dear.

Coash perceptively explores the reality for those who endure conflict or persecution in their country but can’t face giving up the fight and starting afresh in an unfamiliar environment.

El-Sharawy gives a stand-out performance but certain elements let the production down. The role of Ms Nevers feels superfluous. Less time spent on the characters’ recriminations and more focus on the shocking oppression of gay people in Egypt would have given the play some clout.

Until April 20
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