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What's On



Published Thursday 18 September 2008 at 12:20 by Jeremy Austin

There lies at the heart of Karen Malpede’s tale of the destructive effects of distant wars a good idea, but it struggles to get through a combination of a stale setting and a lack of passion.

It is a shame. She updates the Biblical story of Sarah, Abram and Hagar and sets it in post-Vietnam New York with a baron Jewish couple and a Lebanese secretary. Added to the mix is late-middle age crisis and an examination of the effects a nation at war - even a distant war - has on its people.

At times the polemic gets in the way of some decent characterisation. And throughout, Ninon Jerome’s direction fails to find enough passion within the characters to bring the play alive. There’s never an impression that anyone really cares, that they are doing any more than just going through the motions and just behaving in a way that they think appropriate.

Somehow this isn’t the fault of the actors. Susan Penhaligon draws on experience to produce a credible performance. Although at times her under-achieving actress Sarah sounds like Blanche Dubois, she wears the bad decisions and disappointments heavily on her shoulders.

Jos Vantyler, too, draws the audience into his character, a young veteran of the Iraq war who has turned to acting as a way of expressing the pain of his post-traumatic stress and the terrible crime he committed.

But outstanding is Najla Said, who shows an astonishing depth in her range as she takes on three different roles - the sassy Miranda, the deeply intellectual Hala, and her passionate daughter Mariam. So complete is her performance, that she disappears completely into the characters.

Production information

New End Theatre, September 3-October 5

Karen Malpede
Ninon Jerome
Theatre Three Collaborative, New End Theatre
Susan Penhaligon, Najla Said, George Bartenieff, Michael Roberts, Jos Vantyler
Running time:

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15 2014