On Wednesday night, ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ made its debut at Southampton’s very own NST City. Birmingham Repertory Theatre expertly translate Khalid Hosseini’s bestselling novel on to the stage, with the help of director Roxana Silbert and a small but talented cast.
The production follows the story of an unlikely friendship between Mariam and Laila, two women sharing a husband and navigating life in a war ridden Afghanistan.
The audience is transported back to Kabul in 1992 during the war. Laila is an adoring daughter to her parents until they are taken from her after a bomb attack destroys the neighbourhood. A neighbour, Rasheed, rescues her, and then takes her in as his second wife much to the jealously of his first wife, Mariam. Despite the initial tension between the two women, gradually they form a union and support and protect each other from their controlling, manipulative husband.
You sympathise with both Laila and Mariam as they are both in situations they wouldn’t have chosen. Despite their age difference, they’ve both gone through a tremendous amount of loss. Although the play deals with numerous hard hitting subjects; miscarriage, war, arranged marriage, domestic abuse…there’s still moments where Birmingham Repertory Theatre make you laugh. Roxana Silbert also creates a clear distinction between Mariam and Laila’s stories, (as well as their dreams and insights into their past) so there’s no confusion.
The play is certainly a rollercoaster of emotions; you laugh along with the young Aziza (Laila’s daughter) and Mariam’s sarcastic comments, you feel anxious for Laila and Mariam under the tight grip of Rasheed and the Taliban, but feel the love and strong bond between the two women and their children. You’ll look away, be on the edge of your seat, shed a tear but also have a tremendous sense of empowerment from Mariam and Laila’s story. ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ is a definite eye-opener to what goes on around the world, with women being trapped in their own homes under the watchful eye of controlling husbands and the Taliban.
Whether you’re a comedy, musical or theatre fan, NST City has it all. Nestled within a hive of culture in Guildhall Square, surrounded by the perfect mixture of independent and chain restaurants, it’s the ideal place for an evening out.
‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ continues to wow audiences until 6th July. NST boasts a sparkling Autumn/Winter programme full of productions and comedy, and something for the children too, with ‘Dear Zoo’, ‘The Gruffalo’ and ‘The Tiger That Came to Tea’. Musical fans don’t fret - a screening of ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ arrives to NST in July with ‘Cinderella The Musical’ following in November, with plenty of sing-a-longs to enjoy in the meantime.
Don’t miss Seaside in the Square supported by Carnival UK this summer from 19th July to 11th August, programmed in association with NST and Rees Leisure.