Theatre Review: THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO – The Lowry, Salford

Devastatingly raw and direct, THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO is a shocking real depiction of the migrant crisis and how human triumph shines above everything else.

4 out of 5 stars

From CHRISTY LEFTERI’s number one best seller, THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO, is an unfiltered, raw depiction of war and the devastation that war leaves in its wake juxtaposed with the true beautifulness of human strength.

Set (partly) in the dusty sands of war-torn Aleppo, Syria, Beekeeper Nuri and his wife Afra embark on a journey across sea and country to seek refuge in the United Kingdom after their beloved city is destroyed and changed forever due to the ongoing crisis. Although upon reaching their final destination (which happens in the first scene, so no spoilers here), the reception they receive is hostile and unwelcoming, filled with intrusive questions and mouldy, overcrowded houses.

The play is non-linear and jumps through time and place to tell the tragic sacrifices Nuri and Afra have made to find themselves in an unfair and unjust hell at each point along their journey. Nuri and Afra meet a flurry of migrants who each have their own story to tell. THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO sheds light on the dark side of displacement from war and how, upon fleeing their home country, people continue to be trapped in the horrors and the metaphorical quicksand as they try to stay alive.

ALFRED CLAY offers humour and lightness to the contrasted sombre and brokenness in his heart-wrenching portrayal of Nuri. His conviction in the flashbacks is strikingly real and hard to watch at times, portraying the continued PTSD both Nuri and migrants are left with, just like the unwelcome sand we find long after a trip to the beach. CLAY perfectly shifts his focus from lighter to darker moments in the play. Although the opening felt slightly low energy for a moment, CLAY’s energy amplifies, and he commands the stage transporting the audience on his emotional journey.

ROXY FARIDANY has a challenging role in portraying Afra, yet she does it with belief and wonderful execution, showing the desperation of a heartbroken wife whose eyes have seen far too much trauma.

Special mention is well deserved to JOSEPH LONG, who plays a multitude of characters from the family man, Mustafa, Nuri’s Cousin, to the cheeky chappy Moroccan Man who’s ingested the rulebook on being British. LONG is a particular favourite offering up lighter moments through his well-timed comedic queues in both characters alongside the tender moments, which will stay with you.

Through their design, RUBY PUGH beautifully creates a sandy waiting room of tragedy with the bespoke, versatile set adorned with furniture sinking into the dunes. With sand as the backdrop, the play moves through Nuri and Afra’s journey paired magnificently with BEN OMEROD’s lighting, TINGYING DONG’s sound and RAVI DEEPRES film, which are projected across both sand and drapes.

Teamed with the Creatives, the use of physical theatre by the CAST adds to the swift transition between scenes and locations. The repetitive choreography depicts the hamster wheel of trauma refugees face as they jump through the Home Office’s many hoops, only to be left in the waiting room of hell, which the CAST portray as the choreography freezes in time.

THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO is devastatingly raw and direct, a shocking real depiction of the migrant crisis and how human triumph shines above everything else. An absolute must-see, migrants are more than just a headline!

THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO runs at The Lowry, Salford, until 22 April 2023.