Hard beauty in intense tale


Once We Were Kings

By Dure Khan

2.5 stars

Blue Room Theatre

Review: David Zampatti

Dure Khan’s story of young gay Australian Muslims caught between worlds, Once We Were Kings, burns with the heat of stories that need to be told.

It’s impossible to ignore the intensity and sincerity Khan brings to her undertaking, and her writing is steeped in the hard beauty of Islam, the rustle of silk, the tastes of pomegranate and almonds, the call to prayer.

But it also has to be said that she and her directors, Mustafa Al Mahdi and Alex Kannis, haven’t fashioned this message, and these images, into an effective drama.

Angela Mahlatjie, Solayman Belmihoub and Naomi Denny give impressive performances as the young people struggling to deal with the consequences of their sexuality in two cultures, neither of which accepts them.

But Once We Were Kings often seems more like a forum – albeit on an important, little understood, topic – than a fully realised play. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, and Khan should not be discouraged from developing themes that have great dramatic potential as well as deep personal significance.

There’s value in seeing Once We Were Kings as it is, despite its faults, for its passion and the window it opens on a hidden world; some time in the future, I hope, a more developed and dramatically satisfying work will emerge from this beginning.

Once We Were Kings ends on May 30.