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Review - 10 Nights

Updated: Feb 12

Omnibus Theatre

Playing until: 21st February 2024




Photo credit: Nicola Young

Review {AD-PR Invite}

Shahid Iqbal Khan’s 10 Nights graces the Omnibus Theatre in Clapham before beginning a tour around England. In this story, we are introduced Yasser (Azan Ahmed), a young British Muslim who wants nothing more than to hang out with his friends and go viral on TikTok. However, when he reluctantly accepts the challenge to take part in Iʿtikāf, where Muslims commit to sleeping and fasting in the mosque for the final ten nights of Ramadan, he unwittingly sets himself on a journey of self-discovery as he navigates his relationship with Islam and with himself.

 

In this story, we bear witness to Yasser’s struggles and discoveries throughout his ten days in the mosque, Ahmed deftly carries the show with precise physicality, sharp comic timing, and a lot of heart, brought out expertly by director Sâmir Bhamra.

 

In this one man play, Ahmed also gets to display his remarkable flexibility as he portrays some of the other characters Yasser finds himself in conversation with. Whether Yasser is trying to prove himself to a know-it-all worshipper or reconnect with a standoffish friend, Ahmed makes each individual character distinctive through considered and consistent shifts in gait, accent, and posture.

 

Shahid Iqbal Khan has created a witty and moving script, with a well-rounded Yasser and his many layers being peeled back to reveal his often-uncomfortable journey in 10 Nights. A particularly poignant moment sees Yasser reading the Quran aloud to himself, as he realises how taking part in Iʿtikāf has become a precious chance to reconnect with himself, with the world around him, and with Allah.

 

Underpinning much of Yasser’s journey through Iʿtikāf are unshakable thoughts of an old friend who passed away, and it soon becomes clear that there’s something in his history he’s repressing. This was a well-executed plot point with a touching pay off in the play’s final moments, but a couple of the scenes which featured the most important revelations felt slightly rushed. The whole show was very pacy, so it might have been nice to have taken these moments a bit slower to let the gravitas of the situation settle with the audience.

 

Visually, the production design for 10 Nights is simple and very effective. The set brings the audience into the mosque and evokes its size and grandeur, and charming motion graphics (created by Rudi Okasili-Henry) are used throughout to convey other locations and to signal the start of each of the ten days.

 

Also featured on the screen at the back of the stage throughout the production are captions in both English and Urdu. This was a great way to improve the accessibility of the production, and a significant nod to the theme of community that runs throughout the play.

 

There were plenty of laughs of recognition from the audience as Yasser joked about elements of Islam such as the length of prayers or the difficulties of fasting, but 10 Nights is fundamentally a beautiful celebration of the religion and the unique experiences of British Muslims — stories which are still incredibly underrepresented in theatre.


Creatives

Writer: Shahid Iqbal Khan

Director: Sâmir Bhamra

Dramaturge: Oladipo Agboluaje

Movement Director: Hamza Ali

Lighting Designer: Rajiv Pattani

Sound Designer: Sarah Sayeed

Costume Designer: Simron Sabri

Projections: Rudi Okasili -Henry

Vocal Coach: Salvatore Sorce

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