Arabian Afternoons: The Casper Logue Affair by Sebastian Baczkiewicz

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BBC Radio 4, 29 March 2010

This play, the first in a three-part series Arabian Afternoons, based on modern retellings of the Arabian Nights, told of the mysterious disappearance (and subsequent death) of American business executive Casper Logue (Nathan Osgood) in war-torn Baghdad, and the subsequent efforts of junior US diplomat Goldacre (Trevor White) to find out what happened. As ever the story turnedf out to be more complicated than first appeared: Logue was part of a major conspiracy designed to smuggle priceless treasures out of Iraq and sell them to foreign business organizations abroad. The mastermind behind the whole affair turned out to be Goldacre’s boss Hammond (Bruce Alexander), who willingly sacrificed his diplomatic reputation in pursuit of megabucks. Eventually a plausible solution was found by which Hammond was shipped out of Iraq and placed into a more senior (i.e. non frontline post) as an investigative diplomat, while the two Iraqis who had been at the centre of the whole affair, Aseera (Betsabeh Eiuvran) and Rahim (Sargon Yelda) were given free passages to the USA. Meanwhile Goldacre resumed his career as a diplomatic, both saddened and rendered wiser by the experience.


The Casper Logue Affair made some predictable points about freedom and captivity (as a representative of the free world, Hammond was more imprisoned by his greed than any of the Iraqis caught in the contemporary struggle). Moreover Abigail le Fleming’s production showed how little the Americans cared for their Iraqi hosts, who were simply there to be exploited. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the play was the framing device, which saw Shahrazad (Sirine Saba) telling the story to King Shahrayar (Kavork Malikyan) as a way of passing the time before her potential execution the day after. Although these two lived in the past, we were left to question whether history had taught us anything at all: the Americans were equally as barbaric as King Shahrayar in their attitudes.