Tuesday, November 29

The Boy With Two Hearts – National Theatre

My second visit at the National this week tells a true story of a refugee family fleeing the Taliban after they call a death warrant on the mother, Fariba (Houda Echouafni) after speaking out in public against the violence against women. Within days, the family sell their items and flee, with the UK in mind mostly to access the NHS to save their eldest son Hussein (Ahmad Sakhi) who suffers from an undiagnosed heart condition. We journey through Moscow to Vienna to France and finally make it to the UK all through the eyes and bodies of this family and as they face every possible curb, we sit nearing the edge of our seats wanting to catch them each possible fall.

Above us hang coats and jackets, layering the ceiling ranging from all sizes and ages. My eyes kept catching one of the smaller, pinkish puffer jackets hanging empty and well lived in. It doesn’t take much to imagine the person inside and reminded me of the message following me out of the auditorium: the dehumanising of refugees and their impossible journey for help.

This family, like many, many others seek help from strangers giving the last of their money to handlers and sheer luck.

This incredible cast carries this piece with power, never forgetting their love nor their humour to keep each other lifted and hopeful. Fariba will always remind her boys that you do not use violence when you differ opinion, you listen and respect each other. That there is enough fighting without fighting each other, a message the boys seem to carry with them as they grow up, calling themselves the three musketeers. Amid this, Hussein grows worse in condition, and we see the heartbreak of a child with so much love and potential given a second chance but much, much shorter than he deserves.

Within the media, refugees are used as a chess piece to negatively sway a false perspective thus rejecting and dehumanising people who seek safety. Based on a true story written by brothers Hassam and Hamed Amiri and adapted by Phil Porter it felt like a gift to be able to watch and experience this piece. It’s been crafted with love and may be one of the most important pieces I’ve seen this year.

I hope everyone gets to see this. https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/the-boy-with-two-hearts

Reviewer: Alice Rose

Reviewed: 6th October 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★