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April 30 2016

Review of play which is adapted verbatim from real interviews…


IF YOU’RE OF a delicate disposition, avoid seeing this!

But if you have any interest in what’s happened in Syria and Iraq in the last three years or so, this will interest you and leave you with much to ponder.

It is not long, at just over 90 minutes, but “Another World” has to be one of the most revealing and insightful examinations of why so called Islamic State (Daesh) has been able to draw young Muslims from the West into their murderous fold.

The actors speak the actual words of mothers of supporters and others who have either been drawn to extremism in the past or have a professional duty to monitor and counter it and while it features digital imagery and a few monologues – including a couple of addresses from Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi (Nabil Elouahabi), it is an absorbing watch and tightly scripted.

Most affecting from all these testimonies are the three mothers – those who gave birth and nurtured the future soldiers and supporters of Daesh.

A scene from 'Another World: Losing our children to Islamic State

These women who live in the West – with one from the infamous region of Molenbeek in Brussels – and in minority communities, go to the very heart of the challenge and show just how easy it can be to lose your children, despite a very normal love and care.

It’s been said that there is no single profile of a Jihadi fighter from the West but some things do become clear.

For the most part these girls and boys feel a sense of alienation and fell utterly rejected by the wider non-Muslim community.

Often there is discrimination and prejudice and there are few channels for their frustration and anger and so, when they see what they do and folks who say, ‘you are us and we will look after you’, it’s hardly a surprise that the message is a seductive one.

The acting is strong and with the mothers especially you can quite forget that – Yasmin (Nathalie Armin), Geraldine (Penny Layden) and Samira (Sirine Saba).

It feels like you are listening to real people with real sadness and heartache – whatever you think about their children, there’s no denying they’ve lost something and that young people from the West remain a great prize for the extremists.

Equally too the ‘young students from Tower Hamlets’, though on the surface are well integrated and British, you can see how certain things could lead them to think very differently and shift towards more radical ways of believing and behaving.

A real issue and worry for anyone who believes this will be a long and painful struggle with more lives at stake right here in the West – is that they understand ‘us’ far better than ‘we’ understand them.

This play highlights why it is imperative that we seek to include all and respect different ways of living and thinking – one that does not cause any harm to others, can be accommodated in western liberal democracies and that ethnic and religious differences are not an excuse to discriminate and exclude, but an opportunity to learn and discover.

At the end, one of the actors breaks off to explain something very briefly – it is even more shocking and astounding that what has gone before and shows that we if underestimate the challenge, it will only return to haunt us on our doorsteps and possibly claim more lives both here and in the Middle East. (Sailesh Ram)

ACV rating: **** (out of five)

Panel discussion on Thursday May 5 (with some of those who feature as characters in the play): David Anderson (barrister, independent reviewer of Terrorism legislation); Moazzem Begg (ex-Guantanamo detainee and director of Cage); Shiraz Mahir, researcher at international centre for study of radicalisation at King’s College) and chaired by Helena Kennedy (barrister, experts human rights law).
‘Another World’ until May 7, by Gillian Slovo and developed from an idea from Nicolas Kent, at the Temporary Theatre, National Theatre, South Bank, London SE1 9PX

Tel box office: 020 7452 3000

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture


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