This offering from London's Mulberry Theatre Company is a moving and important work about Islamophobia, gender and what it means to be British. It's a charming way to spend 45 minutes and has been rapturously received by audiences, but it would be a stretch to recommend the play in and of itself.
Context is important here. In the spring of this year, an anonymous letter was circulated across the UK, designating 3 April as 'Punish a Muslim Day'. The letter called for violence against followers of Islam and set out a points-based reward system for any hate crimes committed. Right thinking people were naturally appalled by this call to arms, and so the day was instead marked by demonstrations of support for the Muslim community.
Cry God for Harry, England and St George! was written in response to these events. In it, a group of Islamic teens are made to feel increasingly threatened as they prepare to perform an all-female version of Shakespeare's Henry V, on what is being declared Punish a Muslim Day. In the eyes of extreme nationalists, the decision to project their own identity onto an aspect of British culture largely held hostage by white men is nothing short of provocation.
While the production is a promising piece of youth theatre to be applauded for giving its marginalised stars a voice, it simply can't hold its own in a festival heavily saturated with exceptional performance and writing. It calls instead for the audience to suspend their critical faculties. This is an artlessly simple play, albeit one with a poignant message.