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Fall of the Peacock Throne at Southwark Playhouse

Elizabeth Peasley

This is a play about politics and power. A play with two stories, one set in the mid 20th century, the other ancient, in 336 BC. The stories are told in parallel and are both set in Iran once known as Persia.

If you are not already familiar with the history at the core of this drama, you will leave with a thirst to find out more on leaving Shipwright's Yard.

Tehran is the exact location. As we shoot off in 1953, eastern music changes to Sinatra's rendition of 'Luck be a Lady Tonight'; the Americans are in the city. Concentration is needed as four of the five actors, punctuated by rapid scene changes, each take on two/three different roles. Athena (Catriona Lexy-Campbell), Greek Goddess of Wisdom, remains constant throughout.

Contemporary staging (oil barrels and a bed), costume, flashing images, text and lighting coax the audience into the dilemmas these leaders face. President Mossadeq (played most sympathetically and movingly by Ian Hanmore) in the one time democracy of Iran in 1953 and Alexander (Rod Morison) wanting to be 'King of Kings' in 336 BC. Wildbird present us a powerful group of actors/characters who give passion to the entire evening.

The polemics of the story are gripping and compel one to think of the consequences of actions, in particular the actions of governments and vested interests. Is it possible to keep the faith of democracy and still be genuinely respected by people and the world?

This story of the American CIA in covert collaborations with a foreign power has been seen over subsequent decades as one of the most significant in shaping today's relationships between the West and the Islamic East. The ancient story of warring kings inks the continuous thread of history. Is it just repeated with different personalities or are lessons learned?

'Athena is still well and having fun!' is the final wall projected sentence as the drama finishes. US dollar notes litter the floor as you rise to leave. Go and see this play. Think,discuss and think again.

• There is an post-show talk on Wed 11 March involving Ali Matine-Daftary, grandson of President Mossadeq.

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