Review: Operation Magic Carpet


Playwright Samantha Ellis has drawn on her Iraqi Jewish heritage for this captivating children's show. Her heroine is Nomi (Sarah Agha) who lives in Golders Green with her mother and authoritarian father who wants his daughter to assimilate by consuming the culture of the country that gave them refuge, even if it means eating fish fingers. Even her blind Uncle can see that denying your past is no way to live in the present.

Putting aside the moral, Ellis's story whisks Nomi and her audience to enchanting and dangerous Baghdad with the help of a genie and a magic carpet. She's on a quest to find her mother's heart which, she gathers, a little too literally, was left there when her parents became refugees.

In the adults at least, Rosmunde Hutt's quite beautifully performed production evokes some genuinely powerful emotions as Nomi's adventure reveals where a mother's heart truly lies. Just one quibble: it is said that the universality of the best stories is brought about by the specificity of the people who populate them. A shame then that Nomi's Jewishness is only hinted at by the location of the family home.

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