The Middle East gets a taste of Kiwi in a biting comedy about politics, freedom, love, sex and other things that Lonely Planet doesn’t recommend. Welcome to BAGHDAD, BABY! at The Forge from August 15 – September 13.
Dean Parker’s play was among the first pieces of theatre to address the situation in Iraq and was nominated for Best Play at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards 2005. Set in the Baghdad Café, one of the few remaining businesses in the war-torn city, Parker throws together a collection of characters from both sides of the political fence and stirs things up with an unlikely catalyst: a lad from Napier on his OE.
Tom Trevella is Harry Zinc, a former poet and ex-pat Kiwi who profits from the “business of reconstruction”. Claire Dougan plays embittered CNN journalist Martha McCarthy. Jonathan Martin plays Kilroy, a US soldier who presents the argument for occupation as he delivers payments to the families of the injured or killed. Cassie Baker and David McKenzie play Shirin (owner of the café) and Amir (a part-time Mujahideen); locals who deliver bemused commentary on the foreigners and their own situation. Nicolas Kyle rounds off the cast as Kyle, a typical Kiwi backpacker in a decidedly atypical tourist destination.
Director Jon Pheloung (who also directed 2007’s BABYLON HEIGHTS) describes BAGHDAD, BABY! as “a comedy of manners which the reality of Iraq occasionally –and violently - interrupts”. All six characters show themselves to be fallible and surprising as they collide. The play, while politically savvy, is driven by the human needs the characters share.
To create the media-saturated world the play satirises, Julian Southgate’s set features a dozen screens which display footage of Baghdad provided by Television New Zealand. Pheloung is excited that “a reality where even the people in the middle of a war zone feel like spectators” is able to be fully realised on The Forge’s stage.
Critics have praised Parker’s uniquely
Kiwi blend of humour, politics, broken hearts and outrage.
For a sharp, witty, up-to-the-minute play that gets you
thinking, get to The Forge and see BAGHDAD,
''Baghdad, Baby!' is a must-see.' - Harry Ricketts, The Listener
'It's topical, it's intelligent and it'll get you thinking....' - Lynn Freeman, Capital Times
'Dean Parker's ingenious take on occupied Iraq, post Saddam but pre-liberation', is in turn insightful, humorous, sardonic, heart-warming, heart-rending and spine chilling. ... - John Smythe, NBR
BAGHAD, BABY! by Dean Parker
Directed by: Jon Pheloung
Featuring: Cassie Baker, Claire Dougan, Nicolas Kyle, Jonathan Martin, David McKenzie and Tom Trevella
CONTAINS COARSE LANGUAGE
Venue: The Forge at The Court
Show dates: August 15 – September 13. Performances: Monday – Saturday, 8pm
Tickets: $30 adults; $25 seniors/groups 10+; $20 students
Bookings: Phone 963 0870 or online www.courttheatre.org.nz