Edinburgh Festival Fringe: An Arab sheikh in full robes guides us into the Arabian Nights. Before long, he breaks into his English persona, with a wink-and-a-nod charm. Kamaal Hussein was raised in rural Leicestershire with a high-achieving Iraqi exile for a father and a British mum who “bagged her very own Omar Sharif in Derby”.
Summerhall (Venue 26)
He left Iraq in swaddling clothes after the Baathist coup of 1968 turned his father’s eyes dark.
Like Scheherazade, he tells tales in episodes, but from his own life – where he begins by dyeing his hair blonde, in a first failed attempt to fit in to conventional British, or indeed Arab life.
This is about as personal a show as one could imagine – of a gay Arab-British man’s long coming of age. It needed to close the circle of the narrative more adroitly, perhaps in Hussein’s relationships with his parents, fearless voyagers who are fearful in other ways.
But it was charming and moving, and like the best shows, left space for reflection on the many tales one life can tell.
Until 27 August. Today 3pm.