Dinner with Saddam satirical play reopens Iraq file though comedy

Soha Elsirgany, Wednesday 19 Aug 2015

A satirical play written by Anthony Horowitz, Dinner with Saddam offers a comic view on the invasion of Iraq and its executed ruler Saddam Hussein

Dinner With Saddam
Part of promotional poster for Dinner with Saddam (Photo: Anthony Horrowtiz' website)

According to writer Anthony Horowitz’s official website, the political satire Dinner with Saddam will make its international debut at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London on 10 September.

Horowitz is a British playwright, screenwriter and author of over 40 books. His novel series for young adults Alex Rider is a major bestseller. His other most notable works include Sherlock Holmes, and the TV series Foyle’s War.

Horowitz is also the most recent author chosen by the Ian Fleming estate to write a James Bond novel, Trigger Mortis.

The play will be directed by Lindsay Posner, and British actor Steven Berkoff is cast to portray former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Berkoff, an actor, author, playwright and theatre director, is known for playing iconic villainous roles in theatre and film, including Adolf Hitler in a 1980s TV series, Colonel Padovsky in Rambo II, and General Orlov in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy.

His one-man play Shakespeare’s Villains was produced and performed by him in 1998, and explores Shakespeare’s most villainous characters and their motives.

The 78-year-old actor was quoted in The Guardian as saying it would be wonderful if he could play all the powerful dictators of the 20th century. “They are fascinating people and they are dynamic people so I think it is a point of privilege that I could even be considered for such a role.”

The play starts with a family in Baghdad having dinner at the time of the US bombardment of Iraq, when Saddam Hussein turns up unannounced at their door, and proceeds into what Berkoff has called the “best written political satire I have read in 30 years.”

Adding that Horowitz’s script examines the characters with a lot of awareness and insight, opening up the whole regime and political system for a much wider field of vision.

"Although you hate him, you find him a fascinating character. As soon as I read it, this play astounded me and it will really wake people up to all the shenanigans that were going on back then,” he told The Guardian.

Horowitz for his part explained that the motivation to write the play emerged from wanting to “rekindle the anger around the whole invasion of Iraq.”

"There are so many unanswered questions. Every day that passes without the Chilcot report coming out, it becomes more unbelievable that a mature democracy can behave in this way," he said.

Other major cast members in the preformance include Sanjeev Bhaskar, Nathan Amzi, Ilan Goodman and Rebecca Grant.

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