The Chosen One by Ethan Burton

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BBC Radio 4, 24 June 2009
Imagine how you might feel if you had a son or daughter, whom you had brought up as a good Christian, suddenly decided to embrace Islam? This was the basic premise of Ethan Burton's drama, focusing on the experiences of Aaron (Alex Lanipekun), the son of an Afro-Caribbean family living in Bristol, who had begun his university education and decided to convert to Islam with the help of Jamal (Savkat Ahmed), a preacher prevented from speaking in public by the authorities on account of his perceived radical intentions. As the play unfolded, it seemed as if author Burton wanted to reinforce popular prejudices, with the representatives of Islam portrayed as terrorists in embryo, dedicated to blowing up the western Christian world to smithereens, contrasted with the dedicated Christian family placing public good above private gain. Led by Gary (Burt Caesar) and daughter Maya (Nadia Williams), the family worked long and hard to persuade Aaron to change his mind in the belief that he might become corrupt if he did not do so.
However Burton turned such expectations upside down by showing Jamal to be a peace-loving cleric. Although dedicated to his faith, he adopted the Gandhiesque policy of passive resistance; if others reacted violently, then it was their concern alone. Meanwhile the allegedly pious Christian family turned out to be deceitful: Gary pursued a long-standing extra-marital affair with one of his closest female friends. Although professing loyalty to his children, it was clear that he used religion for personal self-gratification. Perhaps Aaron's decision to convert was not so radical after all; he needed someone to love unconditionally, and it seemed that Jamal could provide this (albeit temporarily). The play ended with Aaron and Maya reconciled: Aaron continued to embrace his new faith in the belief he had acquired a new capacity for self-determination; meanwhile his sister returned to her studies, secure in the knowledge that sibling peace had been restored. However Gary had one more destructive card to play, which revealed a fundamental lack of concern for his children; he called the police and told them to arrest his son on suspicion of being a terrorist. Prejudice still dominated mainstream British society, in spite of Aaron's best efforts. The director was Mary Ward-Lowery.