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The Great Extension

by Cosh Omar

"The successor to this dramatist's The Battle of Green Lanes, which the Theatre Royal staged so successfully in 2004, is a very different piece, though it too has a political agenda which is set from the start by a radio news bulletin reporting Barrack Obama's visit to Turkey. The titular extension is to enlarge the glamorous apartment (designer Yannis Thavoris has done wonders on a Theatre Royal budget) of first-generation Brit Hassan. It could as easily be the extension of other cultures into British life and the growth of other ethnic groups in Britain's population....This is a comedy with a political punch that leaves a body on the carpet. We don't need every loose end tidied up but the way Omar deals with this is, to say the least, a bit of a cop-out. At times the comedy verges upon farce - there's a lovely moment when a loaded drinks trolley is deftly directed out of devout Islamic gaze and with two bedroom doors and a bathroom on the balcony as well a other entrances the set itself is already set up for one, and the first act I think would gain from being pushed a little more in that direction. With a Union Jack cushion in the centre of the set and a door bell that plays Parry's setting of 'Jerusalem' it would be a very little push indeed...This is a production full of strong, uninhibited performances and except for a slightly awkward opening, which may well be different by the time you get the see it, Kerry Michael's direction keeps it moving as it springs its surprises with lots of really funny moments -- like the Kippah under the construction worker's helmet that reveals to the gathered Muslims that the wearer is a Jew and other visual point-making, Sanjay's camp repartee and sectarian name-calling that you don't have to be a student of religion to understand...The play gets a sort of coda with the introduction of yet another cousin Hassan (Akin Gazi), young and glamorous and newly arrived from Turkey. This could be the beginning of a whole new play. But that's something for the audience to imagine for themselves, unless Omar is already writing it."

Howard Loxton. THE BRITISH THEATRE GUILD. November 2009

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