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Sea Things

by Hassan Abdulrazzak

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Cast: 11f 7m doubling as chorus (larger cast possible)

Performance fee: £70 per performance (plus VAT where applicable)

A bold and startling comic thriller about climate crisis, conspiracy, and what lurks beneath the waves…

It’s 2050 and, due to the rising sea level, a small coastal town in Britain is now underwater. Some of the town’s inhabitants have taken shelter in a manor house, which has been converted into a camp for climate-change refugees. It’s run by Maxscore, a shady private company.

As they face power cuts, food scarcity and blackmail, the camp inmates start to realise that people are mysteriously disappearing. A strange force has been unleashed and is set to destroy them. Can they stop it before it’s too late?

Sea Things was first performed at Southwark Playhouse, London, in a production by Oxford School of Drama.

Content guidance: This play contains references to drugs, drinking and sexual activity; use of strong and violent language; as well as exploration of adult themes including death, depression and violence.

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About the author

Hassan Abdulrazzak is of Iraqi origin, born in Prague and living in London. His plays include The Special Relationship (Soho Theatre, 2020); And Here I Am (Arcola Theatre, 2017 and touring); Love, Bombs and Apples (Arcola Theatre, 2016 and UK tour; Golden Thread, San Francisco, 2018 followed by a second UK tour; Kennedy Centre, Washington DC, 2019); The Prophet (Gate Theatre, 2012) and Baghdad Wedding (Soho Theatre, London 2007; BBC Radio 3, 2008; Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney 2009; Akvarious productions, Delhi & Mumbai 2010).

Hassan has translated numerous Arabic plays to English by playwrights such as Jawad Al-Assadi, Hanane Hajjali and Wael Qadour.

His contribution to anthologies include A Country to Call Home (Unbound, 2018); Don't Panic, I'm Islamic (Saqi Books, 2017); Iraq+100: Stories from a century after the invasion (Comma Press, 2016) and A Country of Refuge (Unbound, 2016).

He is the recipient of George Devine, Meyer-Whitworth, Pearson Theatre Awards as well as the Arab British Centre Award for Culture. The script of his short film A Night of Gharam won the Unsolicited Scripts Short Film Grant 2022.

Interview with Hassan Abdulrazzak

Sea Things explores the climate crisis and conspiracy. How do you think these subject matters resonate with young people?

Young people, actors in particular, are very clued up about what is happening in the world and can put older generations to shame with their knowledge and activism. They know that mainstream political parties are not doing enough to deal with the climate crisis. Many of them have an acute sense of how climate change intersects with other subjects like the refugee crisis and racial justice. Working with the Oxford School of Drama students on this play gave me a sense of hope that perhaps, just perhaps, we have a fighting chance of preventing the worst of the disaster.

The play is written as a comic thriller. What drew you to these genres to approach this subject matter?

I’m very interested in using popular genres like sci-fi or horror to address ‘serious’ subjects like climate change or inequality. The popular genres have their own conventions and cliches and hence are ripe for subverting. The comedy element helps the audience to immerse themselves in the story. Climate change can feel like a ‘worthy’ subject and any strategy to lessen that feeling should be pursued.

The cast double up as named characters as well as the chorus. What purpose does the chorus serve?

The chorus is the voice of the sea which is avenging itself against humans who have been so reckless with the environment. The sea has revolted against humans and is in the process of teaching them a very tough lesson.

Do you have any advice for actors performing the play, or for directors staging it?

Every character in the story has an arc, even if slight. This is very much an ensemble piece and should be approached in that collective spirit. But above all, embrace the sense of the ridiculous and weird.

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