The Beekeeper of Allepo – Gaiety Theatre – Review

The Beekeeper of Allepo – Gaiety Theatre – Review

Martin Dodd for UK Productions Ltd proudly presents the Nottingham Playhouse production of THE BEEEKEEPER OF ALLEPO
DATES: 11th Apr. – 15th Apr.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo was written by Christy Lefter and published in 2019. While it is a work of fiction, the writer has some experience working with refugees as she volunteered in a refugee centre in Athens. While she grew up in London, she is the child of refugees, as her parents escaped Cyprus following the partition of 1974. The work has been adapted for the stage by Nesrin Alrefaai, and Matthew Spangler who adapted The Kite Runner.

It tells the story of Nuri, a beekeeper who lives with his wife Afra, an artist in Syria. We meet him as he is arriving in England for the first time. He then looks back at his life and the moments that led him to claim asylum in a new country. His story is not a straightforward one and along the way, he made many questionable choices.

This new production shows us the life of a typical refugee. It shows the war-torn country they are forced to leave in fear for their lives and how difficult the transition is to start again in a new country. It is a difficult story for the writer to tell, as you don’t want to make light of the situation while also avoiding an overly bleak, or gloomy night at the theatre for the audience. The play does a good job of finding the right balance, while also coming with a warning, as it shows images of “war, violence, murder, loss of a child, references to sexual abuse, mental illness, and forced migration”. It manages to cover these difficult themes with humour and many insights. This is a touring production by UK Productions which is travelling to many cities around the UK, with this short run in Dublin being its only dates in Ireland.

Alfred Clay plays Nuri and he shows great empathy for a man who has to make a series of impossible decisions to survive. Nuri was a simple man who was content living with his wife and son in Allepo before the war started. Roxy Faridany plays his wife Afra, who is blind after a missile attack. Mustafa (Joseph Long) worked with Nuri in Allepo and his emails on the strange ways of the English and life in a small town are a source of levity throughout the piece. There are eight cast members and most of them play a variety of characters in this fast-moving production.

The set depicts the front wall of a small house in Allepo, along with mounds of earth on each side. Some imagination is required for all the various settings including refugee centres, parks and guest houses.  A bed at the back of the stage is used to depict a boat at one point, with projected images of waves and water transforming the stage into the sea. Projections are used throughout the piece to show images of Syria, bees and other items required to bring the script to life.

This is a worthwhile piece that documents the many difficulties in the life of a refugee. While many in Ireland or the UK only see the problems from our point of view, this gives a first-hand account of the story from the opposite perspective. It shows the forced migrant as a person with hopes and fears, and not as a statistic. The book sold well over a million copies worldwide and was published in over 40 countries, so there is a ready-made audience for this work.


Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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