Opened 21 July 2009
Written: adapted by Hanif Kureishi from his own novel
Directed: Jatinder Verma
Produced: National Theatre / Tara Arts
Synopsis: An Asian kid from Kent goes to college in London and teams up with a sympathetic group of anti-racists. But it’s 1989, the year of the fatwa, and as Shahid begins a hedonistic affair with his lecturer, his radical Muslim friends want to steer him away from the decadence of the West.
What the popular press had to say....
FIONA MOUNTFORD for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "What was promised as a trenchant exploration of the roots of Islamic fundamentalism in our post-7/7 world ends up as a listless trudge through a series of tired scenes." DOMINIC CAVENDISH for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "It may not be the best page-to-stage adaptation ever to have graced the National Theatre. It may not even offer the full satisfaction of a thoroughly gripping yarn..." MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, "Hanif Kureishi has turned his own vibrant 1995 novel into a play. The result is a busy, hectic affair that raises all kinds of issues about religious and political faith, fatwas and censorship and the purpose of art. But, as so often with adaptations, you get the bones without the thickness of texture that was part of the original's charm." MICHAEL COVENEY for THE INDEPENDENT says, "It lives on the page but it dies on the stage. That, alas, is the story of Hanif Kureishi's second brilliant novel, The Black Album, which in 1995 picked up on the Salman Rushdie fatwah and the rising cultural phenomenon of British Muslim fundamentalism while cracking open the whole issue of what should form the basis of a liberal multicultural education programme." MARK SHENTON for THE STAGE says, " Clunky, impotent play." DOMINIC MAXWELL for THE TIMES says, "Kureishi’s stage adaptation, at the National Theatre in a co-production with Tara Arts, is really pretty poor."
Production photo by Talula Sheppard