Review: You Bury Me, Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Four Stars

you bury me

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

Neil Cooper

Four stars

REVOLUTION can be a sexy thing, especially when you’re a crazy hormonal youth who’s on the verge of some very personal changes of your own. Such is the case for the six young people who come of age in Ahlam’s new play, set in Cairo during the optimistic aftermath of Egypt’s 2011 Arab Spring, before their hopes are dashed four years later when oppressive forces invade .

In Katie Posner’s production, a vibrant young cast embodies the jumble of emotions that fuel their various rendezvous through a series of intersecting narratives that embody the pulse of the big city some must leave forever.

Everyone explores the mounting pains of first love, whether it’s Osman writing his way through his anger, Rafik exploring his sexuality, or Osman’s little sister Maya and her classmate Lina doing the same. Meanwhile, Tamer and Alia must contend with an additional religious divide.

While such shenanigans may sound like something straight out of glossy youth television, with a title borrowed from a Levantine Arabic expression to express undying love, the stakes in Ahlam’s play are far higher.

Since winning the 2020 Women’s Prize for Playwriting, You Bury Me has been developed for this co-production, which sees The Royal Lyceum collaborate with Paines Plow, The Women’s Prize for Playwriting, 45North and Orange Tree Theatre, with Bristol Old Vic on board as co-owner.

While the cast’s Greek chorus unit gives way to charmingly performed scenes of clumsy commercials, Posner’s cast shines. Tarrick Benham is a fighting Osman, while Nezar Alderazi brings Rafik’s vulnerability to the fore.

The goofy interplay between Yasemin Ozdemir’s Maya and Eleanor Nawal’s Lina is a delight to watch, as is Moe Bar-El’s Tamer and Hanna Khogali’s Alia. As life gets complicated for everyone, an adventure into an uncertain future begins. Review: You Bury Me, Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Four Stars

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