14 Tables / The Basement and BAC
Audience feedback left on the table cloth:
01 May 2012

Very original concept, setting. Loved it.

Loved the giraffe.

Really liked the stories.

Really liked the atmosphere. Nice and intimate.

It was a lovely mix of realistic moments – pause over eating biscuits – and madness dancing beef!

I wanted more.


Poland 3 Iran 2 / Edinburgh 2010, national and international tour
Hatch, Nottingham
06 Aug 2011

With Mehrdad Seyf and Chris Dobrowolski taking their shared fascination with a 1978 match between Iran and Poland as a starting point, the football quickly receded to being a peg for a wide-ranging series of anecdotes, histories, comic digressions, coming of age stories and whatever else seemed to fit, all illustrated with slides, photographs and snippets of blurry YouTube footage from the 1978 game.

As Dobrowolski’s father made his way to the UK his unit stayed briefly in Iran, where Seyf’s father was a key figure in the local Communist Party. But the key event remained the one that first brought the two narratives together, the shared experience of watching, on televisions in very different places, that 1978 Olympic staging of a Poland-Iran football game. Within this framework both Dobrowolski and Seyf take any number of digressions, from Seyf’s mother’s attempts to reconcile her Communism with a love of Humphrey Bogart, Rita Hayworth and Hollywood films to his own tendency to miss major historical events by being ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’ – a place that often turned out to be the beach.

Gareth Morgan


Chodzenie Siberia / Imagine-Watford Festival
What people said at the Imagine-Watford Festival:
02 Jul 2011

Very interesting.

Very original and unique.

An experience. It was different and not the type of event you would normally find in Watford. It brought a different type of a mood to the top of Watford Parade.

Interactive, friendly, inspiring.

Somewhat Bizzare!

Very imaginative.

Unusual.

Brilliant.

Intriguing.

Fantastic.

Very upsetting.

Metro, modern.

Excellent!!

Creepy and unexpected.

Thought provoking.

Multi-faceted.

Fun.


Poland 3 Iran 2 / Edinburgh 2010, national and international tour
British Theatre Guide
10 Jun 2011

What makes Poland 3 Iran 2 work is that, while there probably are some fictional moments in here (although it is difficult to pick out which exactly), the tone is very genuine and the photos are real.

At the end you do feel as if you know these two people and you'll want to take them out for a drink to hear more of their stories.

Tobias Chapple


Poland 3 Iran 2 / Edinburgh 2010, national and international tour
Remote Goat
08 Jun 2011

If you are interested in heart-rending and humorous personal accounts of WWII this is for you. If knowing more about the lesser publicized respect gained between Iran and Poland during wartime appeals; then this is for you too. If love, family life; father-son relationships and social circumstantial overview are topics that pull at your heartstrings, then you will absolutely love this. If the serious side of the political scene in these two countries, be it historical or of the present rocks your boat then this will be an education. And if sport, nerdy obsessions, childhood memories and observational humour entertains you, then all I can say is you simply must go see this!*****

Debra Hall


Poland 3 Iran 2 / Edinburgh 2010, national and international tour
Left Lion
08 Jun 2011

The night’s main attraction was to be 30 Bird’s Production of ‘Poland 3 Iran 2’, billed as ‘The Perfect Pub Conversation about football, fathers, revolution, swimming, chess, love and Subbuteo’ 

‘Poland 3 Iran 2’ is performed by the artist Chris Dobrowolski and writer/director Mehrdad Seyf, with the aid of a large screen and a laptop that projects photos, maps and film to support their stories.   I say performed, but the impression gained was, as advertised, more of overhearing a particularly animated pub conversation between two great storytellers with a lot of great stories to tell.  Iranian born Seyf deals with the more political aspect of the show, mixing the comic tale of his parent’s courtship, his childhood in Iran and the time his father and uncle spent in prison for political crimes.  Dobrowolski’s stories focussed more on him growing up in Essex with comic reminiscences about holidays in Poland, Panini football stickers and being the sort of child who used football as a springboard for both his imagination and as a focus for his nerdiness.  Both men were able to be funny without trying too hard and be reflective without being sentimental.

The joy of the show was the way that the two men, who’d taken very different roads through life, were able to find resonances between themselves and their experiences.  Parallels between their childhoods, their relationships with their fathers, revolutions in their countries and their love of the beautiful game all drifted into and out of focus throughout the show.  That the audience were free to sit back and enjoy the stories as simple anecdotes or to fit them into a larger narrative added to the show’s quality.  The pacing  throughout was excellent and the visual aids, as you’d expect from an artist, were very well thought out and added a lot to the evening.

Poland may have beaten Iran 3-2 at the Montreal Olympics in the titular game, but tonight the winner was theatre.  Another great show from NEAT.

 

David Millington


Poland 3 Iran 2 / Edinburgh 2010, national and international tour
Extra Extra
07 Jun 2011

Poland 3 Iran 2 is an effortlessly enjoyable show, retelling the narrative of Seyf and Dobrowolski’s families through objects and photos from their childhoods, while the glorious game ties together each of their own stories. This is a nostalgic show, unafraid of subversive humour or offending people. It shows how two completely different families could overcome some of the most tragic events and totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century, to allow their offspring to exchange witty banter over a pint while watching a game of football.

James Buxton


Poland 3 Iran 2 / Edinburgh 2010, national and international tour
Exeunte Magazine
04 Jun 2011

Broadly taken this is a piece about youth and our fathers, and the complexities of national identity as it becomes deracinated by globalisation.  What brings everything to concrete life however, are the images provided by family photos, beautiful monochromatic portraits from Iran, and the scattered remains in Essex sheds of childhood toys, trains and soldiers, and a father’s army greatcoat on a peg.  The energetic resourcefulness which assembles these objects is matched with a keen eye for dignifying the subject matter, and a wistful trail of a life’s ephemera shades into political pitch and moment.  We end on an unexpected and unlikely note of pathos, and are reminded that sometimes football isn’t a matter of  football at all, it’s far more important than that.

Daniel B Yates


Poland 3 Iran 2 / Edinburgh 2010, national and international tour
Brighton Fringe 2011
14 May 2011

It’s hard to know where to start in explaining this delightful piece of performance. It’s not clearly theatre – and indeed one of the highly entertaining double act goes to some lengths to explain that he’s an artist, not an actor . It’s not a lecture – although there are slides and I feel as though I’ve learnt a huge amount about Polish history, Iranian politics and 1970’s football by the end of it. It’s a little like going to the pub with a couple of very well chosen friends of friends and so the Grand Central Bar at The Nightingale is a perfect venue.

It was a wonderfully inclusive quirky celebration of family and international relationships, and how actions both major – exile to Siberia, Iranian revolutions – and minor – learning chess, collecting train sets – set off chains of events that lead us to where we are and what we do in the present. ****

Charlie Hughes-D'Aeth


Poland 3 Iran 2 / Edinburgh 2010, national and international tour
The Stage
20 Aug 2010

The setting is perfect for the pair’s delivery - the geekish examination of Panini sticker albums, the holiday snaps and the installation of a train hauling a human cattle car, is just context, for a thought provoking production that goes much deeper than first appears 

Thom Didbin


Poland 3 Iran 2 / Edinburgh 2010, national and international tour
The Scotsman
18 Aug 2010

Sometimes you remember a sporting occasion not necessarily for the event itself but for the events surrounding it. In Poland 3 Iran 2 , two men explore the memories, both good and bad, evoked by the 1978 Olympic Football match between the two nations.

 Mehrdad Seyf and Chris Dobrowolski represent Iran and Poland respectively. They talk us through their experiences of football, revolution, censorship and family life. These anecdotes, skilfully told, have the audience laughing as Dobrowolski describes his home made World Cup Subbuteo, and reflecting with Seyf on his Uncle’s fight against extremism. A slide show of photographs and an art installation called Siberia offer a brief history lesson about the links between the two countries.

References to the Iranian elections last year suggest that even sport can’t breach the wall between Iran and the West. Ultimately, though, the message is one of hope, and that the memories we hold, even the seemingly insignificant ones, should be cherished forever. 

John Glen


Poland 3 Iran 2 / Edinburgh 2010, national and international tour
Three Weeks
16 Aug 2010

Watching this excellent show gave me the sort of feeling you get when you open a time capsule….Seyf and Dobrowolski are extremely charismatic and this is a wry and charming slice of history, a must for anyone who’s ever traced back a family tree or idolised a footballer. ****

 


Poland 3 Iran 2 / Edinburgh 2010, national and international tour
The Observer
12 Aug 2010

A charming production…two friends – Iranian Theatre Director Mehrdad and half Polish, all Essex artist Chris – deliver a brisk autobiographical lecture practically off the bar counter 

Tom Lamont


Poland 3 Iran 2 / Edinburgh 2010, national and international tour
Total Theatre Magazine
06 Aug 2010

Who’d have thought that a show about football would win my heart? Of course the secret is that this show is about far more than football – it is a beautiful exploration of boyhood, of family eccentricities, of migration, of political resistance, and of a father-son relationship as experienced by two men, one of Polish heritage (visual artist Chris Dobrowolski) and one Iranian (30Bird’s director, Mehrdad Seyf). And lest that sounds a little earnest, let me immediately say that this show is a feast of razor-sharp observations and bizarre confessions that extend beyond the immediate subject matter to grasp at universal truths – the carefully-crafted revelations contained in the details of everyday life expose a wealth of personal histories and monumental historic occurrences.

A lovely moment is when Chris shows us his holiday snaps – taken on the occasion of his father’s first return to Poland in summer 1980, after many decades in the UK. They reveal a family standing sheepishly in front of a tourist attraction in Gdansk, completely oblivious to the fact that the town was making world news headlines as Lech Wa??sa led off a Solidarity movement demo just a few streets away. Meanwhile, Seyf’s family’s life in Tehran is going into freefall as the revolution picks up strength…

The show takes the form of a performative lecture set in a (real) pub, the two men eagerly swapping the remote control to take charge of the Powerpoint. Delights include an onsite ‘toilet in a shed’ kitted out with a model train track; in-depth on-screen analysis of Subbuteo accessories through the ages; and some wonderfully distressed film footage of the legendary Poland-Iran football match that is the uniting moment for our two heroes.

Premiered at Pulse Festival in Ipswich (in June, during the World Cup!), Poland 3 Iran 2 is here seen set in an Edinburgh pub for its Fringe run. Book now, this little gem of a show is set to steal the match.

Dorothy Max Pryor


Plastic / The Undergrand, Edinburgh 08
The Scotsman
11 Aug 2008

THE SCOTSMAN

Plastic 

Down in the cellars of the Pleasance Undergrand, meanwhile, the London-based Iranian company 30 Bird present Plastic, an abstract  installation and meditation on Teheran’s booming reputation as a centre for plastic surgery, and particularly for sex-change operations.  The show consists of a series of tableaux linked by passages of film projected onto the rough walls, and by occasional brief monologues, live or recorded; and the themes involve wounding and bandaging, shifting gender identities, the removal and pickling of unwanted sexual organs, and the sense of some lost, flowery garden of sexual delight, hurt, damaged or hidden.

The single most theatrical gesture in the whole show lies in the separation of male and female audience members, who follow slightly different paths through the experience; this alone is enough to provoke thought about how sharply gender-divided societies accentuate difference, and perhaps heighten desire. . . moments of superb dance and movement.

Joyce McMillan


Plastic / The Undergrand, Edinburgh 08
Fringe Report
08 Aug 2008

FRINGE REPORT

 

http://www.fringereport.com/0808plastic.php

 

Verdict: Powerful exploration of form, performance.

 Plastic is a fusion of dance, monologue, film and sound which starts at a corrugated iron door. The queuing audience is asked to gather round watching a gap at the bottom filled by two large jars of pickled onions. A pair of feet in shoes and manicured hands remove the jars and the door rolls up, revealing a tunnel-like space beyond.

Beckoned inside, men and women are separated and led on different journeys - to merge again, it transpires, in a physical re-enactment of the central theme. There's a well-executed dance routine from Gemma Donohue and Sara Reyhani wearing West-meets-East black and white costumes, fluid against the brick walls of the storage space.

Plastic is visually striking in costume, multimedia and setting. It is a site-specific piece which exploits spaces effectively. The audience is drawn in, integrated in scenario after scenario, led down a spiral staircase - a journey echoed in video, which replays the performers making the descent, passing and repassing each other. Performers mingle and beckon, encouraging their guests (clients?) to inspect a house-like installation as an interested visitor to a modern art museum.

In the fourth space, the performer puts shoes into carefully placed jars, incarcerating stilettos, pointes and court shoes within vacuums. Returning to the starting space, it is now littered with shoes in a poignant echo of the earlier sequence. The design is stark and exact; black-and-white costumes and installations with bursts of Kath Kidston- esque florals mark the polarities of gender certainty which are then exploited - a urinal has a floral interior; performer Ali Amadi's black leather jacket is reversed to reveal a floral lining in the same pattern.

The spoken word is sporadic but powerful: 'Can I be your wife? Can I be your husband?' Recorded speech is haunting - a passage on the effects of Botox on vaginismus; a conversation with different people 'Are you happy to have your sexual organs removed? Sign here please.'

What it's about is not always clear. The programme says that it concerns 'the traffic between the two sexes in the world capital of cosmetic surgery'. A viewer might find it hard to be that specific, but the piece is certainly provocative and challenging and although lacking in explanation, the experience is difficult to forget. It's a powerful exploration of form and performance.


Plastic / The Undergrand, Edinburgh 08
The List
07 Aug 2008

THE LIST

Plastic

Mehrdad Seyf's exploration of gender identity descends quickly from a damp, fetid and warm ground-level cellar to cool, white vaults as the audience is encouraged to consider how the body we inhabit determines our sexuality. Like an underworld imagined by Cocteau, each expressionist scene battles the frustrating sightlines of a venue that might otherwise enthral with the surreal comedy of this talented Iranian team.


Plastic / The Undergrand, Edinburgh 08
The Herald
06 Aug 2008

THE HERALD

Plastic

Elsewhere, in the new labyrinthine Pleasance UnderGrand space, we’re ushered into a pan-Iranian laboratory by the 30 Bird Company, who last visited Edinburgh with The Persian Revolution, a refreshingly complex take on Iranian mores. In their latest work, Plastic, things take an even more opaque turn as director Mehrdad Seyf looks at a country which has, somewhat surprisingly, become the world’s capital of gender modification. So it is that on entering to the sight of women perched on vertiginous heels and dressed in white in the distance, the men and women in the audience are segregated before being led through a living installation involving film and sound constructions.

 But first, the pickles. Jars of the things line one of the rooms, on the wall of which a film of the actors is projected. We’ve already been given a loving description of how pickled onions are preserved by a man who then tells of his intention to remove his own sexual organs. Inside, a female voice explains the meanings of her songs through a loudspeaker, before a male voice tells stories that can never be repeated. Elsewhere, a woman has her breasts strapped down in a manner that resembles foot binding.

In some ways, Plastic is an abstract sibling of Free Outgoing, the India set play currently running at the Traverse and involving sexual indiscretions made public in a very private country. Coming from a white western standpoint, at first glance I wondered what all the fuss is about. Here, after all, is a piece of work that takes its concerns very seriously – but those concerns were surely dealt with in Britain in the post-punk, post feminist, post-separatist wave of radical performance in the late 1970s. In America, too, the culture wars of the 1980s took stuff like this as far as it could go. Didn’t they? Put this into a 21st century Iranian context, however, where as recently as last year the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, denied homosexuality even existed in the country, and you realise why Plastic matters.

 At a slender 40 minutes, it’s not developed as fully as it might have been, and even here there are too many longueurs between scenes, but it still goes some way to confronting a society where nothing is quite as it seems, including men and women. 


Plastic / The Undergrand, Edinburgh 08
Three Weeks
05 Aug 2008

THREE WEEKS

Plastic

All senses are arrested by this surreal, stylish, site-specific piece about sex-change operations and plastic surgery in Iran.  Through the damp gloom of WWII bomb shelters, past jars of pickled onions and abandoned shoes we are beckoned by statuesque performers in to the unruly desires and anxieties surrounding cosmetic surgery and the great gender divide.  The audience are divided by gender for parts of the show and each group tellingly begins to wonder what the other experiences.  Perplexing, sinister, darkly comic, and with a painterly handling of light, as well as teasing; their big tease, pickled onions and plastic surgery – both in the preservation business.  Plastic is a clever human ’installation’, but cosmetic and sex change surgery are confusingly blurred.


Plastic / The Undergrand, Edinburgh 08
The Guardian
04 Aug 2008

THE GUARDIAN

Plastic   

Plastic, a slick, stylish 55 minutes from Mehrdad Seyf and the Anglo-Iranian company 30 Bird Productions, meditates on many things without settling conveniently on one. It touches on consumerism as well as oppression and surveillance, hinting at the vacuousness of a society where every last thing can be reinvented or thrown away. Most of all it suggests the commodification and manipulation of women, whether through Botox or the diktats of Iran's Islamic state.

The journey through these ideas is literal enough, a walking tour through the catacombs underneath the Pleasance conducted by women clad in white: surgical technicians, perhaps, though they might as easily be Zara salespeople. You're segregated by gender, women on one side of a wall, men on the other, one minute listening to misogynistic pop songs being taken apart, the next watching video of an actor winding her torso into an endless skein of bandage. Two of the cast slide off their high heels and perform an awkward, angular dance barefoot on the stone floor; a few minutes later, in a separate part of the complex, a woman hurries anxiously between glass jars, compulsively placing a stiletto in each.

This piece is as much a series of stills as a work of theatre, a succession of stylised vignettes whose relationship remains teasing and enigmatic. But what Plastic loses in narrative energy it gains through the haunting power of its images: a family dinner table weirdly lacking guests, a set of rollerblinds in a perky Cath Kidston print forming a sort of prison cell.

And while its political logic could be accused of lacking subtlety, it evokes with discomfiting immediacy a society from which pleasure has been surgically removed.


The Persian Revolution / Lyric and National Tour
Rogues & Vagabonds
13 Sep 2007

This is a lively company and a talented one. Visually they are strong. Leslie Travers’ elegant and simple set has an A-frame of ladders on a spinning rostrum, and a tilted rostrum with a mast rising from it are set against a translucent backing. The whole cast are dressed in well-cut blue three-piece men’s suits and switch between roles as needed. They race or process over the stage and its structures to mark changes of time or location and their physicality adds great vitality to Mehrdad Seyf’s stylized production… There are good theatrical skills on display here.

 


Howard Loxton


The Persian Revolution / Lyric and National Tour
Morning Star
12 Sep 2007

Eccentric, breathless take on the Iranian revolution. Mehrdad Seyf's play, centred around the 1906 Iranian constitutional revolution, gamely tackles a difficult and, for many of us, obscure period of history, trying not just to make gripping drama but also to make us laugh. The drama (has) a giddy free-wheeling feel and allows those on the stage to throw their whole bodies into their acting. Some of the best jokes come from the production's clever choreography.


Alexander Carnwath


The Persian Revolution / Lyric and National Tour
The Financial Times
10 Sep 2007

Seyf and the cast of 30 Bird Productions emphasise the contemporary resonance by presenting events in a surreal, comic style. The versatile performers clad in blue suits take turns to play successive Shahs, revolutionaries, religious leaders and American missionaries. It is an inventive playful piece. The performers are very funny as they scatter in lightning time out of the way of the violent wrath of the Shah as he strides around looking for heads to bang and groins to knee. There is a delicious irony, of course, to an American Missionary's statement that America doesn't interfere in the other countries' affairs.


The Persian Revolution / Lyric and National Tour
The Stage
11 Sep 2006

Mehrdad Seyf's new play uses the centenary of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution as a springboard for a surreal, stylised and darkly comic essay on this pivotal point in the history of the Middle East. The five strong Anglo-Iranian cast, all wearing matching purple suits, and frequently clutching cigarettes, depict the complext social and political events that lead to this turbulent period, focusing on the changing role of Islam and the position of women in society, while also encompassing the viewpoints of Christian missionaries as well as - a trifle bizzarely - extracts from the adventures of Tintin. Erin Brodie relishes her role (as the Shah) and Ali Amadi provides unexpected laughs. The production sheds light on a fascinating and still relevant period in history.

 

Natasha Tripney


The Persian Revolution / Lyric and National Tour
Emel Magazine
10 Sep 2006

There are a total of five actors who take on the mammoth challenge of enacting a multitude of historical characters and their performances are breathtaking, especially the female actors who take on both male and female roles seamlessly. The stage space was so well occupied and movements were so well co-ordinated that it became a piece of choreographed dance. The stage setting is interestingly simplistic and from such simplicity comes greatness…

The minimalist stage design produces a modern feel to a story that is 100 years old. The profound message of the play which you are left feeling is that there are no heroes. It is a spectacular piece of drama, which at times is disturbing but is essentially compulsive viewing.


 

Nabila Pathan


The Persian Revolution / Lyric and National Tour
Metro
06 Sep 2006

An enjoyable romp through revolutionary Persia. The Persian Revolution is a timely play that feels contemporary in its issues…A riotous style and a surreal sense of humour.



The Persian Revolution / Lyric and National Tour
The Herald
01 Sep 2006

The Persian Revolution, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

A woman kneels across a platform reading Destination Moon, one of Herge's comic-strip adventures of Tintin. In this late tale, our blonde, be-quiffed boy-hero and chums are decamped to the exotic land of Syldavia, where, a good 10 years before the first Apollo mission, the space race is already taking flight. It's Herge's usual fare of swarthy foreign agents thwarted by the thoroughly European forces of good.

As the starting point for the Cambridge-based Anglo-Iranian 30 Bird company's impressionistic history of Iran on the 2006 centenary of its constitutional autonomy, it's a playful statement of intent. It demonstrates how, caught between Russian and British empires, a mix-and-match of eastern and western influence left a template based on the Belgian constitution.

And with such a minefield of material to work with, writer/director Mehrdad Seyf somehow navigates through this labyrinth, sketching in the essence of conflict via deft imaginative leaps.

Using just five brilliantly blue-suited actors on Leslie Travers's slick, uber-cool set, 30 Bird have turned out a gorgeous-looking piece of serious fun. As a pukka voice-over fills in the gaps, shahs come and go, each incarnation adding their personal tics. The first is a Black Adderish gadabout, his successor a brutally driven ball-breaker.

Seyf makes clear, too, the contradictions of the power that comes with independence. As American evangelists on a mission to civilise and save vow to never interfere with another country's politics, the constitution's inherent misogyny is left to fester. Only when Tintin's rocket goes into orbit, though, does the blast's full impact become clear. 

Neil Cooper


The Parable Of The Blind / Brixton-Shaw Theatre
What's On
13 Jun 2006

Writer/Director Mehrdad Seyf and the creative team of 30 Bird Productions have workshopped a unique theatrical experience. With a performance style that places emphasis on story telling, physical imagery and choreographed staging, Seyf pulls off the feat of staying true to Hofman’s tragic-comic narrative, challenging our perceptions about art and life while still discovering some highly theatrical images of his own…This is a very promising debut from a new company with a flair for visual ideas you rarely see.

Roger Foss


Majnoun / Riverside Studios and National Tour
Culture Wars, The Institute of Ideas
24 May 2006

Majnoun is a deliciously subtle set of scenes exploring the conflict between imposed modernity and the Islamic traditions of Iran in the 1920s… It is sophisticated, confronting the past wrongs through humour and providing context for careful thought…moments of genius are pleasingly frequent. 

Tom Ogg


Majnoun / Riverside Studios and National Tour
The Guardian
09 May 2006

Playful, absurdist and comic...(Majnoun) is so deftly staged, so appealingly performed and has such high production values it is impossible not to like. 

Lyn Gardner


Majnoun / Riverside Studios and National Tour
Theatreworld
12 Apr 2006

Through a series of fragmented episodes, arresting images and various songs, we are given a taste of what modernisation and western influence meant to a nation steeped in tradition.... Leslie Travers' imaginative set springs surprises, the 3 actors give engaging performances and the music is stirring - most memorably Roxana Pope gives a thrilling rendition of Seyf's original composition "Leili". A tantalising evening. 


Majnoun / Riverside Studios and National Tour
The Scotsman
10 Apr 2006

What's more unexpected is the sheer childlike playfulness of the show: the fragmented comic surrealism of its style; the obsession with food and movies; the sexy banter between an Iranian girl and her English boyfriend. This is a vital show that raises all the key issues about relations between Iran and the West, and has the slightly self-conscious, in-joke charm of a piece that means a great deal to those whose experience it reflects, but which is only now setting out to be tested in front of the wider audience that so desperately needs to see it.

Joyce McMillan


Majnoun / Riverside Studios and National Tour
The Herald
09 Apr 2006

Before the start of Majnoun, I'd have said dramatic odds were heavily in favour of a worthy plod across the quagmires of cultural divide – news that the piece was performed in both Farsi and English didn't suggest a barrel of laughs. But 30 Bird Productions had several aces up their sleeve that trumped my doubts: a roguishly clever script (by director Mehrdad Seyf), a cast of three gifted, versatile players, a set cunningly rooted in farce (lots of sudden little trapdoors and spy holes) and a tremendously uplifting belief in absurd humour as a valuable conduit for serious themes and provocative questions.

Mary Brennan


but you speak such good English / The Barbican and International Festivals
Time Out
16 May 2003

Featuring interviews with young Iranians who found themselves exiled in London after the Islamic revolution, this amusing and revealing video doc explores issues of national identity and attachment to place. A child psychologist, magazine editor and film-maker all confess to regular uncertainties about self-definition and belonging, while the Iranian victory over America in the 98 World Cup is shown to be one of the few unifying forces for an internationally dispersed community. But it's finally stand-up comedian Omid Djalili with his acutely observed insights into the displaced psychology, who stays in the mind - funny, poignant and a fine, accessible guide to the natures of both the exiled and their adoptive country. 


The Maids / Studio Voltaire and Kingston Arts Festival
The Pleasance Theatre
31 Oct 2001

Beautiful and erotic

Chris Grady


The Maids / Studio Voltaire and Kingston Arts Festival
Principal Arts Officer, Royal Borough of Kingston
30 Oct 2001

“Excellent Performances” Colin Bloxham, Principal Arts Officer, Royal Borough of Kingston

Colin Bloxham


The Maids / Studio Voltaire and Kingston Arts Festival
Wandsworth Guardian
09 Oct 2001

Disturbing yet strangely compelling. 


Death By Heroine / Riverside Studios
The Stage
11 Feb 1998

“30 Bird Productions has unearthed a short and fascinating piece of Iranian history for its second play…The Company is one to watch”

Andrew Aldridge


Death By Heroine / Riverside Studios
What’s On
10 Feb 1998

For Westerners, to whom Iran means little more these days than fundamentalism and fatwas, the society Seyf presents is an unexpected one: secular, internationally aware, cosmopolitan. For modern Londoners, Seyf’s dialogue and distinctive visual style are immediately accessible…Culminating in a stirring final scene in which Minou aids the suicide of her tortured husband, the play is a tribute to those who survived Iran’s era of revolt as much as an elegy to those who died under it….An elegant account of a little known piece of history, Death by Heroine deserves attention.

Robert Lloyd Parry


Death By Heroine / Riverside Studios
Time Out
09 Feb 1998

It’s an earnest and worthwhile endeavour, leavened by an epic love affair and enriched by innovative cinematic staging. At first Leslie Travers’s clean and clever set design, a wide, diminishing series of gauze boxes, seems unnecessarily distracting. But as they slide noiselessly into different configurations throughout the show, these screen’s enhance the sense of individual lives trapped by events beyond their control, in a country caught up in a cold war Middle-Eastern brinkmanship…A brave and thought provoking piece of political theatre on an interesting and underexposed subject”

Charles Godfrey-Fausset