Hadda and Hassan Lekliches!

Oran Mor Glasgow and Traverse Theatre Edinburgh


Ben was invited by David Greig to direct this play by Jaouad Essounani, the Moroccan playwright feted for his controversial texts questioning the realities of contemporary Morocco, as part of the NTS/Oran Mor One Day in Spring season.

After discussions with David Greig and a visit to meet with Jaouad in Rabat it was agreed to combine his two plays Hassan Lekliches! and Confidences into one intertwined piece which examines the cliches present in both Moroccan and western society about young Arab men and young Arab women.

Presented in stand-up style with the bare minimum of props, the production featured stunning performances by Juliana Yazbeck as Hadda (making her UK theatre debut) and El Razzougbi as Hassan, video by Tim Reid and live percussion and musical arrangements by Dave Boyd.

Allan Chadwick, The Herald

..a lively slice of Moroccan in-yer-face theatre directed by Grid Iron’s Ben Harrison…a fine performance by El Razzougui, a young Moroccan male who at one stage finds himself a cause celebre after being detained at Guantanamo Bay. What really stands out is the scintillating, multi-tasking performance of Yazbeck, making her UK debut here, and surely a name to look out for in the future

Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman

With a whoosh of theatrical energy, a star is born, in this week’s Play, Pie and Pint show; or perhaps two stars, in a single lunchtime. Jaouad Essounani’s Hadda And Hassan Lekliches! – at the Traverse from next Tuesday – is a beautiful, raunchy, and terrifying picaresque adventure, in which our heroine Hadda, and her male alter-ego Hassan, chart their paths through the recent history of Morocco, from the 1970’s to the present day. Imagine a cross between Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and the 1001 Nights, with the narrative double-tracked and given a dark 21st-century political twist, and you’ll begin to sense something of this show’s spectacular mix of earthiness and surrealism… Essounani’s narrative explodes with life and humour; and Ben Harrison’s simple, inspired production moves unerringly through this complex landscape, using David Boyd’s percussion-based music to drive and punctuate the narrative, and revelling in Essounani’s astonishing linguistic playfulness, across the jostling worlds of English, Arabic, French and German. The show also features a fine, eloquent performance from El Razzougui as Hassan, and a show-stopping one from the dazzling young Lebanese actress Juliana Yazbeck as Hadda. For anyone who cares about the dangerous crossroads in global politics at which we find ourselves this show is one that has to be seen; clever, vivid, and all the more disturbing for its fierce, funny humanity, that finally congeals into fury, and implacable hate.

Bill Dunlop, Edinburgh Theatre Guide

Jaouad Essounani’s script skilfully and wittily reflects much of the discontent and downright anger from which demonstrations and mass action spring…Both Juliana Yazbeck and El Razzougui offer stand-out performances of real integrity, and Ben Harrison’s direction is never less than tight and effective.

Allan Radcliffe, The List

The National Theatre of Scotland and Oran Mor’s One Day in Spring season goes out on a high at the Traverse this week, with a second outing for Jaouad Essounani’s energetic two-hander, which takes a trip through Morocco’s troubled recent history with a disarming mix of humour and tragedy. Our hosts for this journey are force of nature Hadda (Juliana Yazbeck) and her cousin Hassan (El Razzougui), whose uneasy passage from innocence to experience is closely tied to their country’s fate and relationship with the West… Essounani toys throughout with his audience’s expectations in a script that mixes realism and the fable in a powerful and provocative manner. Grid Iron’s Ben Harrison creates this rich canvas with only a smattering of props, some back projections and an atmospheric percussion soundtrack. The pair of performers, meanwhile, switch effortlessly from one character to the next, with Yazbeck’s virtuoso performance a particular revelation.