Review: Where were you on January 8th? EPIC Studios

In the Middle East, what we Westerners understand as drama has never really had much of a foothold.

First of all it was banned by the religion and later by the politicians as well.

But there was a little breathing space, about eight years ago, when things lightened up a bit and suddenly there were hundreds of little companies reinventing the theatre for their culture.

Mehr Theatre Group grew from that scene.

As we entered, a group of actors sat on parallel benches in the dark.

There were three screens and the audience flanked the action so you were constantly aware of your fellow spectators; and above all, their eyes watching you.

The lights went down and subtitles flashed up. A voice-over spoke to us in poetic Farsi.

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As in film, we were never acknowledged and the actors' focus throughout was unwavering.

A story unfolded about a stolen gun.

Narratives interwove, and at first it seemed as if what we were witnessing was some sort of mystery unfolding – which would perhaps end in a politically motivated killing. But nothing turned out quite as you expected.

Undoubtedly, this was enigmatic theatre and quite sophisticated storytelling.

• NNF11 runs from May 6 to 21. You can book online at www.nnfestvial.org.uk/nnf11, by phone on 01603 766400 or at the Norwich Theatre Royal box office

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