Follow Us on Twitter

The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes - Arcola Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

RASHID Razaq’s new play, The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes, receives its world premiere at the Arcola Theatre, where it runs from July 23 to August 16, 2014.

Presented by Nick of Time Productions Ltd and Nabil Elouahabi and based on an award-winning short story by Hassan Blasim, The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes is directed by Nicolas Kent, who was Artistic Director of the Tricycle Theatre from 1984 – 2012.

The cast also includes Nabil Elouahabi, a leading actor in the Olivier nominated and critically acclaimed trilogy, The Great Game: Afghanistan, which ran at the Tricycle Theatre and toured throughout the US. He was also a series regular in Channel 4’s BAFTA nominated Top Boy (series two).

Salim, an Iraqi refugee, takes on a new identity in London after fleeing persecution in Baghdad. He is picked up, and marries a wealthy older woman, who enthusiastically coaches him in the bedroom for his forthcoming citizenship test. But Carlos Fuentes finds that knowing the names of all six of Henry VIII’s wives can neither satisfy his new wife nor turn him into a “Britishman”.

The nightmare of the violence of his past catches up with him, and suddenly he is at the airport, accompanied by a G4 security guard, waiting for a plane to take him back to Baghdad.

Nicolas Kent has directed productions in over 100 theatres around the world including the West End and New York; as well as for notable companies in Great Britain including the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Court Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, Hampstead Theatre, the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith and the Young Vic.

He is probably best known for the political work he did at the Tricycle, where the verbatim plays he directed became known as the Tricycle Tribunal plays, and included The Colour of Justice (the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry), Nuremberg, Srebrenica, Bloody Sunday and Guantanamo. Most were broadcast by the BBC and two were performed in the Houses of Parliament and on Capitol Hill.

More recently, The Great Game: Afghanistan enjoyed a critically acclaimed run at the Tricycle Theatre, including a special performance for General Sir David Richards and members of the British Army. The Great Game then toured the US, where it was performed for The Pentagon at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall in Washington DC.

As well as The Great Game: Afghanistan, Nabil Elouahabi’s theatre credits include Love Your Soldiers (Sheffield Crucible), Crossing Jerusalem (Tricycle Theatre) and Sparkleshark (National Theatre). His other television credits include the next series of Fox’s Emmy Award-winning drama 24, Generation Kill, The Path to 9/11, Mad Dogs and EastEnders (as Tariq). His film work includes Zero Dark Thirty, Code 46, In This World, Ali G Indahouse and The Sum of All Fears.

The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes is Elouahabi’s first co-production, with further projects in development.

Rashid Razaq is a playwright, screenwriter and journalist. His debut play The President and The Pakistani (directed by Tom Attenborough), based on the real-life story of Barack Obama and his illegal immigrant flatmate, opened at the Waterloo East Theatre in run-up to the US presidential election in 2012. His short play Arab Spring (starring Nabil Elouahabi) was performed at the Nursery Festival in 2011 and was featured on BBC Arabic Service.

Hassan Blasim originally trained as a filmmaker but was forced to flee his home city, Baghdad, in 1999 when his films were identified as dangerous critiques of the Saddam Hussein regime. He moved to Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) where he continued to make films under a pseudonym for several years before eventually leaving Iraq completely and traveling, as an illegal migrant, across Europe, eventually arriving in Finland, where he now lives.

His first collection of short stories, The Madman of Freedom Square, was commissioned by Manchester’s Comma Press and published in English first in 2009 (it has since been published in half a dozen languages). His second collection, The Iraqi Christ, has just been shortlisted for the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. He is the winner of two English PEN Writers in Translation awards.

The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes is designed by Ellan Parry, with lighting by Matt Eagland and sound by Andy Graham. Further casting will be announced shortly.

The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes is recommended for ages 14+.

Tickets and Times: Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm, £18 (£15 concessions); opening performances (July 23 – 30), all tickets £15; Saturday matinees at 4pm, £15 (£12 concessions); Mid-week matinee on Wednesday, August 13 at 2.30pm; Pay What You Can Tuesdays, August 5 and 12 (tickets in person from 6.30pm – limited and subject to availability). To book, call the box office on 0207 503 1646 or visit

Running Time: Approximately 75 minutes.

Also at the Arcola: Between Us, a new play by Sarah (May 28 to June 21, 2014) and Morphic Graffiti’s bold new interpretation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel (June 18 to July 19, 2014).