“The Boy with Two Hearts” is a beautifully artistic piece of theatre which tells an authentic and heartbreaking story, of inequality, struggle, and hope.
The set design immediately drew me in to the world of the Amiri family, a family of five living in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. First to step out on stage and introduce us to this story is the beautiful solo voice of Afghan singer Elaha Soroor. Soroor’s gentle tone and almost-hypnotising lyrics seem to carry the story along, she acts as an angel of death alongside the family. It is poignant that her voice and presence is consistent throughout our journey even though the Amiri’s are facing turmoil and pressure at every turn.
Words and language seemed to be a big theme running throughout the design of the piece. The switch in language between Farsi and English, along with the projections of captions onto the raised level of staging behind our actors, was a highlight of the production for me. I particularly loved the use of descriptors as images, an extremely inventive yet inclusive approach to experiencing the storytelling in front of us. The use of lighting and sound was exceptional as a whole, it paired well with the elements of physical theatre that the actors explored in several poignant moments of their journey. A perfect example of this was the hospital sequence, Hussein’s character is receiving cardioversion to the heart which is portrayed through physical acts of slow motion, sound, and a strong pulse of lighting. We can feel the beat of the scene and are on tenterhooks waiting for the outcome, much like the other characters in the story. Key thematic words were made to stand out in the light, given their moment to make impact and resonate with us, and then left lingering in our minds for hours if not days after the play was over.
The sense of location and travel was strong, there was a good use of levels and crawl space to represent the small compartments inside lorries, cars, and boats throughout the Amiri family’s travels to the UK. The way the actors multi-rolled was stylistic and effective, I felt it really showed the range of the talented cast and added a sense of uncertainty and tension to the voyage- the audience were immersed in their journey, as if we were experiencing it with them.
The story as a whole was written well, it was fast paced and I liked the introduction of new characters along the way- it really reminded us as an audience of the other people who were in similar circumstances but still going on completely different journeys. There was great chemistry between the actors on stage. They allowed enough space for the audience to sit in those intimate moments and take a breather from the action, before dispersing into their individual roles of narrating the storyline and taking us along with them. This method of storytelling was perfectly executed and represented the themes of family, love and hope through those dark and traumatic times.
“The Boy with Two Hearts” is a must-watch for every audience, it’s a dynamic insight into the inequalities and cruel structures of our world, where a resilient family must fight for their right to freedom, safety, and a place to call home. This would be an incredible educational experience for a younger audience, not only because of the important and enlightening content, but also for drama students looking to widen their knowledge around the art of impactful performance. This production perfectly encapsulates the wonderful and interesting elements that exist in theatrical storytelling.