One Hour Before Sunrise (3 stars)

Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh, until Sat 14 Oct


Over 400 people of 35 different nationalities remain held without charge or trial at the infamous Guantenamo Bay. We’re just beginning to question the involvement of our government, whereas for some nations torture has long been an established part of their so-called justice systems. Asylum seeker Ghazi Hussein bravely tells his story through his new play with Theatre Workshop director Robert Rae.

Based on Hussein, Palestinian poet Moneer (Okan Yahsi) is unjustly imprisoned and brutally tortured without trial. Present day Moneer (Omar Mostafa) tells his story to a theatre director (Jim McSharry) and flashbacks follow his experiences through his lengthy incarceration with inmates, unlikely friend Drugs (Nabil Shaban) and the malevolent Wiseman (Andrew Dallmeyer)

George Tarbuck’s effective lighting design creates a dark prison with no natural light. In it, we see humanity at its lowest ebb, exploring coping mechanisms from drug induced escapism to insanity and hope, celebrating the resilience of the human spirit in extreme conditions. As Aeschylus wrote, “men in exile feed on dreams of hope”, and for these men it’s all they have. It’s powerful subject matter but the flashbacks are a tad contrived and once the play has established their daily horror it has nowhere to go, losing momentum. However, it’s a frightening reminder of what human beings and even our own government are capable of.

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