Review: Word-Play, Royal Court Theatre ★★★☆☆

Photo: Johan Persson

Directed by Nimmo Ismail, Rabiah Hussain’s new play was developed during his own experience of losing his ability to communicate because of a brain tumour and having to rediscover words. It’s a clever play, delving into the meaning of words and the power they have as they reverberate with far-reaching consequences.

Its anthology-style constituent parts are tied together by an event where an offensive word has been used by a person in power – then come those consequences. There are some great moments and shades of light and dark within these stories but the parts are too disjointed as Ismail struggles to keep the narrative link. There is a bigger play here busting to get out but restrained by its length and its format.

But it’s well acted by its cast of five actors Issam Al Ghussain, Kosar Ali, Simon Manyonda, Sirine Saba and Yusra Warsama who play a multitude of roles across the hour and a half. Manyonda and Warsama are particularly good and Warsama’s understated delivery of the monologue that brings the play to its near-close is the moment that follows you out of the theatre’s exit, into the bustling night and down into the Underground and all the way home. It stays with you.

Word-Play is at the Royal Court Theatre until 26 August