The Birmingham Rep has mounted a fast paced confident production of Shan Khan's new play Prayer Room at the Edinburgh International Festival.
With sensitivity and humour it deals with religion and power in a contemporary British college where a room has been allocated for the use of faith groups.
The play begins with most of the room's time being divided between the Muslims and Christians, leaving a lone Jewish student with a time slot she must share with Christians.
A sudden, arbitrary decision by the Principal to hand over the Muslims' Friday time slot to the Jewish Society sparks a terrible conflict.
Recent hysteria about multi-culturalism make this a very timely play. When the head of the Muslim group tells other Muslim students that they have temporarily lost the Friday prayer room he counsels patience, pointing out that "these is difficult times to be a Muslim in this country". Later we hear from the Principal that "a few shredded Korans were found scattered around the car park"
The issues raised by the play are never explored to any great depth and there is a certain unsatisfying abruptness to the ending. However, Angus Jackson's light and compassionate direction draws out our sympathy and understanding. This is helped by Khan's lively naturalistic dialogue.
Humour is central to the development of plot and character. Religious hypocrisy is constantly being exposed by laughter. The Christian student Bunce is performed with a riveting intensity by Jimmy Akingoola.
Edinburgh Lyceum Theatre August 22-28; Birmingham Repertory Theatre, The Door 6-17 September