Mustafa (Munir Khairdin ) is behind bars following the death of a young boy during an exorcism. The set (Colin Falconer) is immediately convincing as a prison with metal bars and the impression of caged corridors: an effectively confined space for the action. Prison guards provide, at times, some comic relief in an otherwise ‘vivid thriller’ particularly the younger of the two (Ryan Early) while his almost paternal colleague (Paul McClearly) is very convincing. In fact all four actors are excellent, and in Mustafa we see a sensitive, enigmatic character, his quiet intensity building up to a final climactic point. Here, some impressive effects and illusions (Richard Pinner) are used to really build on a dramatic penultimate scene that is the height of the intensity.
Mustafa is a devout Muslim, and themes are raised of cultural identity and notions of East vs. West, illustrated in the contrast between Mustafa and his Westernised brother Shabir (Gary Pillai), where their relationship is one in place as a sub-plot. The strange events occurring around Mustafa that unnerve everyone around him lead to a questioning of our perceptions of what cannot be explained: reluctance to accept what we cannot understand, however much proof lies before us.
At times it feels lacking, but overall the piece is a thoughtful, well-written drama, Naylah Ahmed drawing on stories of ‘Djinn’ from her childhood to create a supernatural story with a political edge.
- Nina Raines