Fifteen-year-old Muslim Khalid lives a typical teenage life in Rochdale. But when he returns to Pakistan during the aftermath of 9/11, he is labelled a terrorist and carted off to Guantanamo Bay – which has, shockingly, held up to 60 juveniles.
Director Dominic Hingorani, who also adapts Anna Perera's original novel, goes some way to capturing the dizzying terror experienced by young captives, but it is his depiction of Khalid's home-life that really impresses. The dynamic between young Khalid (Hamza Jeetooa) and his mother (Rina Fatania) is warm but never over-sentimental. Fatania is a powerful presence throughout – first as the henpecking mother and later as Khalid's fiercely protective cellmate.
Unfortunately, the rest of the prison-based characters feel clichéd. The plot loses clarity as it picks up pace. The stage, too, feels over-cluttered. Yet the intensity returns when an absorbing fantasy sequence flashes Khalid's vibrantly realised home life, before our eyes.