Afghanistan is Not Funny by Henry Naylor (2023), Gilded Balloon, Review

Henry Naylor pictured in a tin hat
Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Gilded Balloon and Henry Naylor
Henry Naylor (Writer)
Henry Naylor (Self)
Running time

A fascinating journey through Henry Naylor’s past, his beginnings as a playwright and his acknowledgement of the people behind his stories, this is part-confessional, part-therapy, part coming-of-age. Naylor is an engaging performer: he strides back and forth on the stage, between past and present, decisions and regrets. This feels both raw, yet ultimately hopeful as we follow Naylor through his decades of driven, dangerous but exhilarating adventures.

What is it that makes us who we are? What is it that makes us chase a dream? This is not specifically what Naylor asks, but it feels like this is what he is trying to uncover. He repeats several times that he wants to be known as one of the great political satirists. What he becomes is a comedy writer, director, performer and political storyteller, particularly focused on current political situations. The story of his first visit to Afghanistan and then revisiting the research based on the current political climate is personal, informative, and heartfelt. By getting involved in war in another country as an ally, what does this then do for those within that country, or those left behind to deal with the aftermath? This is what Naylor explores.

The use of photographic imagery is well-pitched, reflecting back to a previous exhibition and to his current play. It brings to the fore the people involved. There is black humour and sadness: what this leaves the audience with is silence, contemplation, understanding. An interesting piece for those who wish to understand a little more about the impact of conflict.

Show Time: 17-18 August @ 19:15

Gilded Balloon

Ticket Prices: £14-£16

Accessible entry: Access to the performance space is via stairs or lift then there is level access into the venue. Wheelchair access type: Level Access, Lift (Building Lift). Stairs: 11- 20. Age: 12+ (Guideline)