‘Challenging the arrogance & entitlement of Western cultures’: CRY HAVOC – Park Theatre ★★★

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Park Theatre, London – until 20 April 2019

Cry Havoc is a refreshing take on the immigration story but this is not quite matched by other elements of the play. Tom Coash‘s play is inspired by his time living in Egypt and learning of how a gay man had been arrested and tortured by police.

Mate Terri Paddock chairs a post-show Q&A with the Cry Havoc company on 8 April 2019

Marc Antolin plays Nicholas a naive, romantic Brit who wears a coat of colonial arrogance. James El-Sharawy plays Mohammed his boyfriend who has just been released from prison having been picked up in a sweep on a club by police.

Tortured, scarred and scared, Mohammed has already been rejected by his father, ostracised by the local community and knows he could be targeted by the police again.

Nicholas thinks he has the answer: Take Mohammed back to England and sets about trying to get him a visa.

Coash’s play isn’t just about whether love can survive the cultural divide, it also challenges the common notion that people from developing countries would leap at the chance to live in the West.

Mohammed may feel isolated and afraid but he doesn’t see life in England through the same rose-tinted glasses as Nicholas.

At home in Egypt, he has friends, his language and culture, in England he’ll be an immigrant in an unfamiliar landscape, inevitably subject to prejudice and possibly abuse or worse.

Cry Havoc, Park Theatre – James El-Sharawy. Photo by Lidia Crisafulli

This is where Cry Havoc is at its most powerful and compelling, challenging the arrogance and entitlement of the British and Western cultures.

However, as a love story, it doesn’t fully convince. Nicholas despite having studied Arabic and gone to Egypt for romantic reasons, treads over Mohammed’s culture and beliefs with the delicacy of a camel.

His actions feel more about himself than any genuine care and concern for Mohammed and despite some tender moments it left me questioning what the attraction was which undermined the dramatic tension.

Cry Havoc, Park Theatre – Karren Winchester, James El-Sharawy and Marc Antolin.  Photo by Lidia Crisafulli

The humorous moments are sometimes misplaced. Nicholas’s first encounter with the embassy official (Karren Winchester) is an awkward, bumbling almost farcical affair that tonally doesn’t chime with the rest of the play.

Later the official will deliver a speech about love that also feels oddly misplaced in the context.

Cry Havoc is a refreshing take on the immigration story but this is not quite matched by other elements of the play. A lesson in how love doesn’t conquer all, I’m giving it ⭐️⭐️⭐️.

It’s at the Park Theatre until April 20 and is 80 minutes without an interval.

Cry Havoc, Park Theatre – Marc Antolin. Photo by Lidia Crisafulli

You might also like to read:

Fringe review: Random Selfies, Ovalhouse Theatre ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. Playing until 4 April.

West End review: Downstate, National Theatre ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. Playing until 28 April.

From the archive (March 2011): Flare Path, Theatre Royal Haymarket ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Rev Stan
Revstan really is a reverend (it's amazing what you can buy on the internet) but not a man (the Stan bit is a long story). By day, she is a freelance editor and copywriter; at night, she escapes into the world of theatre and has been blogging about it at theatre.revstan.com since 2007. She says: “I'll watch pretty much anything, from something performed on a stage the size of a tea tray to the West End and beyond. The only exception is musicals. Tried 'em and they just don't do anything positive for me.”
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Rev Stan on FacebookRev Stan on InstagramRev Stan on RssRev Stan on Twitter
Rev Stan
Revstan really is a reverend (it's amazing what you can buy on the internet) but not a man (the Stan bit is a long story). By day, she is a freelance editor and copywriter; at night, she escapes into the world of theatre and has been blogging about it at theatre.revstan.com since 2007. She says: “I'll watch pretty much anything, from something performed on a stage the size of a tea tray to the West End and beyond. The only exception is musicals. Tried 'em and they just don't do anything positive for me.”

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