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An award-winning play has made its explosive political debut at Bristol Old Vic and might make anyone think twice before they book that sunny holiday to countries with dubious dictators and destruction of human rights.

You Bury Me by Ahlam – who probably wisely, does not reveal who she is, scooped The Women’s Prize for Playwriting with this drama focussing on millennials emerging from the hopeful revolution of 2011 into the nightmare of living and love freely under 2015’s brutal regime.

Ably produced by Paines Plough, this desperate love letter to Cairo fills the stage with noise, fumes, drunken calls, kisses and laughter with the intoxicating, interlocking stories of six young people negotiating a new political landscape in the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprising.

Alia, Tamer, Lina, Maya, Osman and Rafik take on this fast-paced, funny, tragic and heart-breaking story.

There are times when the drama could do with a slowing of speed but this is post-revolution when the response to constantly looking over your shoulder requires a warp-factor agility.

Rafik, beautifully played by Nezar Alderazi, has Grindr on his mobile and despite warnings about dates, becomes one of the many, many disappeared.

I love his sweet questions to writer Osman – Tarrick Benham – asking his preferences to be boring and good-looking or reasonable and interesting?

Moe Bar-El who plays Tamer and new, scared girlfriend, Alia, played tenderly by Hanna Khogali – bring humour and tenderness as they negotiate sex, the terrifying fear of losing her virginity and ultimate plans for escape on a blow-up raft the audience hopes takes them to safety but fear it will not.

Eleanor Nawal plays straight-laced Lina and wild child, Maya, performed by Yasemin Ozdemiv, fall in love and their stolen kisses could literally kill them.

You witness the illumination of police torches searching the city. Who is looking? Who is following, telling tales, revealing secrets?

I liked the focus entirely on one generation, the one that really counts in the next and it makes you think of all those other courageous young people whose lives are crushed and distorted, in particular in Iran.

The youthful energy required for change that despots have to break.

Writer Ahlam said: ‘People find ways to love.

"Even in a very conservative state, even if it could potentially be violent. People find ways to be together, to have sex, to discover their sexuality.’

The 18-day uprising in January 2011, saw President Hosni Mubarak ousted after nearly 30 years. Briefly, Egyptians felt their world change in an instant, only to be suffocated under a brutal crackdown.President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former military officer, seized power in 2013 and with his appointment, came waves of mass arrests. Nobody knows how many have been imprisoned, tortured and died. Human Rights

You Bury Me - a love story


First estimates there are 65,000. Reason enough not to book that Egyptian holiday.

Co-produced by Paines Plough, The Women’s Prize for Playwriting, 45North, The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and The Orange Tree Theatre, in association with Bristol Old Vic.

You Bury Me is on at Bristol Old Vic until Saturday, March 4, recommended aged 14 and over.

For tickets and more information contact the box office Monday-Saturday between 1-6pm, call 0117 987 7877 or

Melanie Greenwood

Full Company 067_You Bury Me_Pamela Raith Photography.jpg

PHOTO: Pamela Raith

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