Pros: The script has some very elegant rhymes.
Cons: The delivery is too high-paced to let the lines settle.
Islam is a complex religion with a fabric that, in the last decade or two, has shown profound tears. Basing its research on real-life experience, award-winning creative team Quilliam weaves multiple stories to create an Orwellian play, where reality is intercepted by a dystopic teleshopping channel. Stereotypical characters alternate on stage, whilst we see in action the mechanisms behind the process of radicalisation.
There is an extremist, represented by the blogger Bacchus (Faaiz Mbelizi), who went to jail and found comfort in Islamic indoctrination. There are the converted Zenobia (Rebecca Banatvala) and the apostate Sayidaa (Sarah Agha), who swap places between Dartford and Daesh. The first is desperate to run away from the over-sexualised occidental civilisation, the second forced to run away from the impositions of the Islamic State. Then there is Zulfi (Clive Keene), the homeless imam who makes a list of all the innovations brought to the world by the Arabs and strongly believes in the necessity of a Muslim reform.
Accompanied by a discreet soundtrack, Nazish Khan describes a dysfunctional reality where rightful purposes are pursued by the wrong means, and he does it with an impressive use of vocabulary and rhymes. Unfortunately, though, the cast delivers them too hastily and part of them get irredeemably lost.
Under Jessica Lazar’s frantic direction, all actors are constantly onstage. They appear like ghosts behind the cloths of white gauze that hang from the ceiling, or create elaborate choreographies amongst themselves. This lends an important physical momentum to the piece but, in the long run, it also steals the audience’s attention from Khan’s elegant script.
Whilst I’m on the subject, I also blame the venue for hosting this performance immediately beneath the auditorium hosting Monkey Dance, one of the Fringe’s most riotous events. The screaming and banging coming from upstairs nearly drowned out the voices of the actors completely.
The real centrepiece of Deadly Dialogues is its elaborate text and, as such, it requires a suitable tempo – essential for the audience to savour the beauty of the words and their rich meaning. I imagine this piece developed into a full-length play and performed with a pace that gives the audience enough time to meditate on the weighty subject matter.
Author: Nazish Khan
Director: Jessica Lazar
Box Office: 0845 260 1234
Booking Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/deadly-dialogues
Booking Until: 28 August 2017