News: The Special Relationship to play at Soho Theatre

In America, foreign nationals can be deported after serving prison sentences. Some of them are British.

Esther Baker will direct Hassan Abdulrazzak’s timely new play, The Special Relationship, a dark and biting satire which exposes the complex and heart-breaking stories behind the deportations of ex-prisoners from the US.

A grain of cocaine, a digit on a breathalyser, a forged cheque, a DEA sting or murder one?

Caught in the transatlantic tango between Trump and May and proudly presented by a gun-toting Immigration officer, these are verbatim stories of double punishment and separation.

Gripping accounts of justice and separation brought to vivid dramatic life in a fast-paced and theatrically daring production using savage comedy, surreal metaphor and verbatim testimony from those who ended up on the wrong side of the criminal justice system.

Developed from interviews with ex-prisoners and experts in immigration and criminal law, the award-winning playwright Hassan Abdulrazzak carves a rich dramatic narrative and uncovers vital questions around identity and place as he gets behind the political rhetoric of those caught up in the quagmire of immigration detention and deportation.

The cast includes Miranda Foster (The Man/Dance Nation), Ricky Fearon (Othello/Nine Night) and Duncan Wiseby (Dead Ringers/London Road) with further casting to be announced.

Hassan Abdulrazzak’s plays include Baghdad Wedding (Soho Theatre, London 2007; BBC Radio 3, 2008; Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney 2009; Akvarious productions, Delhi & Mumbai 2010), The Prophet (Gate theatre, 2012), Love, Bombs and Apples (Arcola Theatre, 2016 and UK tour; Golden Thread, San Francisco, 19 April – 6 May 2018 followed by a second UK tour) and And Here I Am (Arcola Theatre, 2017 and UK tour; Middle East and Africa tour, 2018). His short plays include Trump in Palestine (part of the multi-author show Top Trumps at Theatre 503, 2017) and Lost Kingdom (Golden Thread Reorient 2015 festival, San Francisco). Hassan is commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company. He has adapted Baghdad Wedding into a feature film for Focus Features and is writing a feature film for New Century. Hassan has received the George Devine, Meyer-Whitworth and Pearson theatre awards as well as the Arab British Centre Award for Culture.

Esther Baker is the Artistic Director of Synergy Theatre Project. Established in 2000, the company creates ground-breaking work across theatre and the justice system. Their work includes new plays which are specially commissioned to humanise the stories of those we work with – prisoners, ex-prisoners and young people at risk of offending and to provide new insights into the criminal justice system. Credits include most recently Martin Askew’s There is a Field (Theatre503), Davey Anderson’s Blackout (Ovalhouse), Evan Placey’s Girls Like That (Unicorn Theatre), Innua Ellum’s Cape and John Donelly’s Burning Bird (Unicorn Theatre), Stephen Adly Guirgis’s Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train (Trafalgar Studios); Shelagh Stephenson’s The Long Road (Soho Theatre); Elmina’s Kitchen (HMP Brixton); On the Waterfront (Wimbledon Studio Theatre) and Burn and Someone to Watch Over Me (Southwark Playhouse).

The Special Relationship was researched in collaboration with Prisoners Abroad, a UK charity supporting British citizens imprisoned overseas and returning to the UK.

The Special Relationship plays at Soho Theatre from Wednesday 26 February to Saturday 21 March 2020.

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