By Peter Maddern

Henry Naylor’s works are somewhat of an annual treat at our Fringe and he and the Holden Street team must be congratulated on being willing to take on Fortress Australia when the decision to come was made. Still, given the subject matter of this work, Australian border control is somewhat of a trifling obstacle.

In more recent times, Henry has taken on a performing role as well and this year it is his own one man show. Twenty years ago, Henry goes to Afghanistan to find out what is going on in the new American inspired conflict there in the wake of 9/11 and to report ‘the truth’. In this delightful mix of humour, honesty and horror, we learn a lot about what journalists in war zones see, what they let us see and what remains seen only by the combatants themselves.

Sanitising imagery for western sensibilities has no doubt contributed to the obsession of many with some of today’s esoteric interests; with the real world biffo in Ukraine playing itself out now in the internet age perhaps we have an opportunity to better balance our priorities and Afghanistan in not Funny is one, albeit coincidental way, to start reshaping those perspectives.

Lecture and laments aside, Afghanistan is masterful story telling delivered by one who knows is subject matter intensely as both writer and witness. It is as consistently engrossing a piece as I have seen from Henry Naylor’s pen over the past 15 years.

A true highlight in troublesome times and a truncated Fringe.

Kryztoff Rating:  5K

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