Part One: Invasions & Independence (1842-1929)
The saga begins with Bugles at the Gate of Jalalabad by Stephen Jeffreys. After a devastating defeat, four British soldiers struggle with passionate questions about their purpose in a distant land: Are they following God's will? Spreading civilization? Or just following orders? Then, in Durand's Line by Ron Hutchinson, a British diplomat and the amir of Afghanistan engage in a stunning duel of wits. Can the simple act of drawing lines on a map impose order on a "lawless" culture? Or is it folly to forge a nation from competing tribes? Finally, Campaign by Amit Gupta and Now is the Time by Joy Wilkinson examine the legacy of Afghanistan's first president. Can one man with a glorious vision throw off British rule and create a secular democracy? Or will warlords enforce a new agenda?
Part Two: Communism, the Mujahideen, and the Taliban (1980-1996)
A pair of provocative plays, David Edgar's Black Tulips and Lee Blessing's Wood for the Fire, burn up the stage when Soviet troops enter Afghanistan. Are the Russians invited guests or invaders? Who is the actual enemy, and where do they get their weapons? As victory proves elusive, the mission - and the meaning of success - must be redefined. Then, in Miniskirts of Kabul, by David Greig, a journalist interviews the country's deposed Communist leader. Their hilarious and horrific conversation covers everything from hemlines to the Kremlin as the Taliban lay siege to the capital. Finally, in The Lion of Kabul, by Colin Teevan, two men hired by the United Nations disappear - and only a midnight meeting can reveal their fate.
Part Three: Enduring Freedom (1996-2009)
America blithely rides an economic boom in Ben Ockrent's Honey as an anxious CIA operative tries to buy back missiles that landed in the hands of militants. Next, in The Night is Darkest before the Dawn by Abi Morgan, a teacher invites girls to a free school - but fearful families recall all too well the harsh justice of the Taliban. In On the Side of Angels by Richard Bean, employees of a British nonprofit struggle to retain their integrity while raising funds at home and brokering deals abroad. Then Simon Stephens' Canopy of Stars captures a soldier in two intense encounters: one with a buddy before battle and the other when he returns to his wife. Has anything changed? What have we learned? The Great Game goes on in Afghanistan, yet the conclusions are up to you.
"Astonishing," exclaims London's Evening Standard. "No former undertaking has boasted anything like the scope or ambition of The Great Game." "Fascinating," agrees Time Out London. It "leaves you hankering for more. After seven and a half hours, that's some accolade." "Mind-blowing," adds the London Guardian. "Afghan history and culture are being made manifest in a uniquely challenging, theatrically exciting way."