Should we be grateful for pain?

“I mean with The Prophet – never before has bad writing been so richly rewarded. 


Irfan Shamji as Joseph and Erik Sirakian as Charles (Photo: Marc Brenner)

I don’t know why when a play looks so promising on paper, again and again, at Hampstead Theatre, it is a disappointment?  Roxana Silbert started as Artistic Director with the brilliant thriller The Haystack and many of the plays in the Downstairs space have been better than those Upstairs.  Whoever is picking these plays isn’t reading any further than “the writer ran the National Theatre for ten years and this is his first play” The Snail House or in this case, a play where the author was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and directed by an inspirational British director.  The 2019 anniversary plays were almost universally lack lustre with the exception of Peggy For You.  

And now they have lost £748,000 in funding and their Artistic Director has resigned. 

Sons of the Prophet is about a Lebanese-American family down on its luck who live in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.  The elder son Joseph Douaihy (Irfan Shamji) was a track athlete but is now developing health problems which cause him pain and he needs expensive blood tests and investigation.   He is concerned he might have MS.  He is tied working for a nightmare boss Gloria (Juliet Cowan) in a job that doesn’t use his education and skills because he needs the medical insurance his job offers.  


Jack Holden as Timothy. (Photo: Marc Brenner)

Gloria has met Charles (Eric Sirakian) the younger brother at his school and learnt about Joseph’s family and wants him to write the history of his family so she can publish it.  He declines and she threatens Joseph with withdrawing his health insurance. The Douaihys are related to Khalil Gibran, the famous Lebanese author of The Prophet. The scenes in this play have the same titles as some of the chapter headings in The Prophet.

The very first scene, the prologue saw the shadow of a deer in the road and heard a car crash trying to avoid it.  Joseph’s father was the driver of the car and is in hospital.  It was a prank and the perpetrator is Vin (Raphael Akuwudike), a very promising high school sportsman.  As Joseph’s father has died as a result of a heart attack, the family will be involved in deciding how Vin should be punished. 

Both Charles and Joseph are gay. Added to the brothers’ sorrows is the arrival of Uncle Bill (Raad Rawi) who says he has come to look after them.  Charles is 18 and Joseph is 29 and really Bill needs looking after himself and is outrageously politically incorrect.  I did laugh at the one-liners but a sense of gloom overtook me at the lack of health care available to people no longer employed in the steel industry of Pennsylvania.  

As Timothy, Jack Holden, after the sensational Cruise, makes a welcome return to the stage as a gay reporter and boyfriend.  

Jack Holden as Timothy and Irfan Shamji as Joseph. (Photo: Marc Brenner)

Production Notes

Sons of the Prophet
Written by Stephen Karam

Directed by Bijan Sheibani



Holly Atkins

Irfan Shamji

Jack Holden

Juliet Cowan

Raad Rawi

Sue Wallace

Raphael Akuwudike

Eric Sirakian


Director: Bijan Sheibani

Designer:  Samal Blak

Lighting Designer: Jack Knowles

Sound Designer: Giles Thomas


Running Time: One hour 50 minutes 

without an interval

Booking to 14th January 2023



Hampstead Theatre 

Eton Avenue

Swiss Cottage

London NW3 3EU

Phone: 020 7722 9301


Tube: Swiss Cottage


by Lizzie Loveridge at

Hampstead Theatre 

on 12th December 2022