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Sam Troughton as Romeo and Mariah Gale as Juliet

Love’s young dream never felt more thrilling or poignant as in Rupert Goold’s energetic and engaging new production of Romeo and Juliet.

The exhilarating opening scene plunges the audience straight into a beautifully choreographed sword-fight between the Capulet’s and Montague’s. Flashes of fire erupt angrily among the chaos, adding to the menacing atmosphere as the two warring families battle hammer and tong.

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Film: Four Lions

Riz Ahmed as Omar and Kayvan Novak as Wak

Through Riz Ahmed’s character, the would-be terrorist Omar, director Chris Morris has skilfully encapsulated the Government’s ‘Prevent’ conundrum. Omar is at once naïve and intelligent, foul-mouthed and gentle, pitiless but tender. In short, he is human, very human. But how to ‘reach out’ to young men like him and prevent losing them to a violent and misguided cause?

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Greg Hicks as King Lear (Photos by Manuel Harlan)

Is blood really thicker than water? Upon watching ‘King Lear’, Shakespeare forces his audience to ponder the proverb which provokes such a searching question. Islam places the utmost importance on the concept of family, and this drama plumbs the depths of familial relationships.

David Farr’s production is skilfully imagined and deftly executed, offering a valuable comprehension to one of Shakespeare’s more difficult and complex plays. As one of the Bard’s most brutal and unforgiving tragedies, ‘King Lear’ explores the folly of old age and the ruthless ambition of the young, leading to a fatal clash of generations. The story of a King’s fall from grace at the hands of his children sees the fragility of the human condition effectively replicated on stage under Farr’s capable direction.

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Film: The Infidel

Djalili with Richard Schiff

In the midst of such uncertain times in the Middle East, what better way to break the proverbial bread with your neighbours than to make a film about a Jew raised as a Muslim. David Baddiel’s acerbic comedy is set in London’s East End, a generational melting pot of Huguenots, Irish, Jews and now Muslims. Subtly drawing on the co-existence of these faiths through a wittily outrageous, yet essentially warm hearted story, his characterisations show Muslims in a refreshingly ‘normal’ light.

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Arabian Nights director Dominic Cooke speaks to Saadeya Shamsuddin about revisiting the ancient Eastern epic in a post 9/11 era and the need for more Muslim playwrights.

The Story of the Little Beggar (Photos by Keith Pattison)

The magic and power of storytelling lives on. Like Queen Shahrazad who bewitched King Shahrayar, night after night with her magical tales, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s much anticipated production of Arabian Nights combines all the elements of an epic story that captivates its audience.

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Much Ado About Nothing

Tim Sheader's production at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Tim Sheader's production at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre (Photos by Saadeya Shamsuddin)

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I spoke with the Evening Standard’s Deputy Arts Editor Richard Godwin to hear about his views on how the arts scene in London is fairing in the current climate.