Sons of Prophet reviews at Hampstead Theatre

Stephen Karam’s award-winning comedy Sons of Prophet has opened at Hampstead Theatre in London.

The play runs at Hampstead Theatre until 14 January 2023.

Sons of Prophet stars Irfan Shamji (Hamlet, Chasing Hares) as Joseph Douaihy, a gay American Maronite Christian in rural Pennsylvania, who has a pretty complicated life!

The cast also includes Jack Holden (Cruise), Raphael Akuwudike (First Touch, The Jumper Factory), Holly Atkins (The Book of Dust), Juliet Cowan (Everything I Know About Love, I Hate Suzi, Fresh Meat), Raad Rawi (An Honourable Woman), Eric Sirakian (The Kite Runner), and Sue Wallace (Allelujah).

Directed by Bijan Sheibani, the play’s creative team also includes designer Samal Blak; lighting designer, Jack Knowles; sound designer, Giles Thomas; casting director, Julia Horan and assistant director, Stepan Mysko von Schultze.

Stephen Karam’ Sons of the Prophet was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and won the Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play in 2012.

Check out reviews below from the Times, Guardian, TimeOut, Evening Standard and more.

Book tickets to Sons of Prophet at Hampstead Theatre in London

Sons of the Prophet reviews

The Times

"Grief and grievances in a brilliant tragicomedy"

"... a show that, never mind the BlackBerries wielded by its mid-2000s protagonists, is a timeless delight. Yet it takes a few minutes to tune into Bijan Sheibani’s poised, plausible production. Is it being satirical or sympathetic?"

"Heavens this is good writing, beautifully realised. “At the risk of stating the obvious, all the characters are equally human,” Karam writes in the text. Yes, he adds, even the ones who say stupid things. The sense of grief is palpable, yet so too is the sense of making do and getting on."

"Caustically funny, richly human, Sons of the Prophet somehow feels familiar and not quite like anything you’ve seen before. More, please, from its author and from this theatre."

Dominic Maxwell, The Times
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"Stephen Karam’s eccentric comedy about two brothers struggling with their dad’s bizarre death is a real gem of a play"

"At first, Stephen Karam’s grimly brilliant comedy about pain and loss might not seem very festive. But sadness is as much a part of Christmas as turkey or eggnog, as people long for the lost cathedral-like shelter of the family they had as a kid."

"Director Bijan Sheibani’s closely naturalistic production is packed with memorably weird performances. Irfan Shamji and Eric Sirakian have an immaculate rapport as twentysomething brothers Joseph and Charles... And Juliet Cowan delivers a standout performance as Gloria, the comically clueless wealthy publisher"

"... it’s a tribute to Karam’s skill as a playwright that so much hope and humour shine through this broken"

Alice Saville, TimeOut
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The Evening Standard

"This queasy tragicomedy drags"

"The characters are self-consciously quirky, the situations forced, the wit overdone"

"Sons of the Prophet is, quite simply, not very good. The characters are self-consciously quirky, the situations forced, the supposed darkness of the wit overdone. Bijan Sheibani’s production cultivates an appealing, rambly naturalism and has a beautifully understated central performance from Irfan Shamji. But still, the 100-minute running time drags."

"Sheibani’s production ambles along pleasantly and is succinctly designed by Samal Blak until it awkwardly breaks the fourth wall. But every character should match the downbeat naturalness of Shamji’s Joseph, and instead they’re mostly garish cartoons. On a deeper level, while the play may have novelty value for London audiences, it doesn’t count as exciting new work by any other metric."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Guardian

"Overstuffed drama by The Humans’ Stephen Karam"

"There’s some promising material in this tale of a struggling Lebanese American family – but too much story for the play to successfully contain"

"Directed by Bijan Sheibani, there is humorous repartee and some sparks of searing darkness but the comic timing sometimes feels off, and too much is stuffed in the script with not enough energy on stage to bring it to life. This makes it hard to keep emotionally invested in the lives of the characters."

"Some moments pack punches, such as Joseph’s medical insurance emergencies and his connection with a gay news reporter, Timothy (Jack Holden), although intimacies between them are shared too abruptly on their first meeting. The script is full of funny lines but something gets lost in the delivery. Characters talk over each other too and the dramatic effect of their words gets swallowed up."

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian
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The Stage

"Pensive and sharply observed"

"Bleak tragicomedy struggles to rise above a thoughtful but leaden script"

"Karam’s writing is pensive and sharply observed, his melancholic dialogue ringing with naturalistic rhythms, interruptions and hesitations. But his characters’ tendency to announce their feelings, or clumsily blurt out exposition, breaks the flow of otherwise effective scenes."

"Heading the cast, Irfan Shamji is convincing as Joseph, his stiff physicality eloquently conveying the constant pain he is experiencing."

Dave Fargnoli, The Stage
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i News

"A humane but underpowered story of family and loss"

"Stephen Karam’s play has some lovely performances but is markedly inferior to his previous Hampstead offering, Tony Award-winning drama The Humans"

"Karam highlights with subtlety and skill the inadequacy of human language and behaviour when it comes to confronting other people’s suffering and grief..."

"Bijan Sheibani’s production runs out of oomph as the misery levels escalate, and the underpowered plot strand involving the student behind the deer decoy prank fails to ignite."

Fiona Mountford, i News
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📷 Main photo: Sons of Prophet at Hampstead Theatre. Photo by Marc Brenner

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