Runtime: 1h 00m
The Gate Theatre has been a fixture in Notting Hill since 1979, but while this tiny theatre above a pub may have created some miraculous transformations over those years, the space — up a narrow flight of stairs — was never accessible and no longer fit for purpose. So, the Gate has moved to Mornington Crescent where it takes up residence at the space some of you may know as Theatro Technis. The opening show is Sami Ibrahim’s fable — seen at Roundabout in Edinburgh this summer — set in an apparently fantastical world where sheep float, babies grow in the earth like plants, and cities full up with rain like soup bowls. But this slyly told story, one which is buoyantly playful and yet undercut with sadness, is no fairy tale. It gradually becomes clear that the island on which shepherd Elif has taken refuge from the tyrant who terrorised her country and family, is remarkably like our own island. Both writing and Yasmin Hafesji’s adept production have a jaunty light touch which is very pleasing.
‘We all live under the same sky. It’s just that, beneath that sky, there’s some arsehole saying “don’t stand here, stand over there and shut your mouth”.’ Elif shears sheep for a rich landowner. Every other waking hour she spends queuing outside the palace, hoping that the King will let her live within the city walls. She comes from a far-away land. She is searching for sanctuary. And this is what we call a hostile environment. ★★★★ The Observer ★★★★ The Scotsman ★★★★★ Edinburgh Guide ★★★★★ Robbie's Backstage Bants ★★★★ The Skinny Directed by Gate Theatre's Associate Director Yasmin Hafesji. A Gate Theatre, Paines Plough and Rose Theatre production. Content guidance: swearing; references to sex, death, murder.