Written by award-winning playwright Hassan Abdulrazzak, Love, Bombs and Apples is a one-man show of four individual stories exploring the lives of four men in Palestine, London, Bradford and New York. The impressive actor essaying these roles is Asif Khan, presenting a tour de force that guarantees him as a name to watch out for. Flitting from one character to another is no easy feat, especially when their personalities are as different as their accents here.
Most impressive of all is how the play brings out hilarity in what essays some of the most serious, topical issues happening in the world today. The comical situations that these characters find themselves in are intelligently subverted, and to explain what happens in any of them would ruin the surprises in store. What can be shared, is that the stories are compelling and the characters on the whole are three-dimensional, fallible, relatable and very easy to warm to.
The only exception to the rule would be the Bradford rude boy in the third story, who may give a hilariously ridiculous insight into the government’s complex agenda to keep us away from jihad, but whose story doesn’t resonate anywhere near the same level as the other three. Leaving out this story completely may work towards the play’s overall benefit.
What is also missing is a succinct through-line for all four pieces. Though they’re all linked through tone, it’s difficult to pertain an overall message; rather four distinct stories with a certain worldwide Islamic slant. And judging on the stories individually, despite exploring fantastic journeys with hilarious consequences and heartfelt human insights, they all finish quite abruptly, having the viewer following involving, entertaining jokes without a punchline.
The simplistic set and sound design must also be applauded for keeping things subtle yet hugely effective. Despite zero stage changes, the audience easily find themselves whisked from Palestine to London to Bradford and New York. And all of this relies on Asif Khan’s ability to flawlessly change character. In the hands of a lesser actor, these challenges could have spelt doom.
Love, Bombs and Apples is an entertaining, involving and insightful look into the lives of characters we don’t come across every day. Well worth a watch.
LOVE, BOMBS AND APPLES continues its run at the Arcola Theatre until 22nd July 2016.