Things Hidden Since The Foundation Of The World review – Edinburgh Festival Fringe ★★★★☆

5 mins read

Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World is an ambitious piece of theatre, playing at the Traverse Theatre as a part of the 2023 Edinburgh Fringe. 

The third part of a trilogy created by Javaad Alipoor, the piece uses theatrical techniques, podcast tropes, projection, and music to create a story that keeps you thinking even after the performance has finished.

Written by Javaad Alipoor, who is also one of the performers, the show sets out to investigate the unsolved murder of “Iran’s Tom Jones”, Fereydoun Farrokhzad.


Farrokhzad was a huge star in Iran in the mid-1970s, and the production includes footage of his performances on Iranian television, which were progressive within the cultural and political context of Iran at the time.

Alongside his successes as a singer Farrokhzad hosted a weekly TV variety show, which helped propel countless performers to stardom. Iran’s “Opportunity Knocks”, to provide a comparison.

Forced to flee his homeland after the 1979 Revolution, Farrokhzad settled in Germany but continued to perform, selling out vast venues like the Royal Albert Hall. 

Though he had frequently challenged taboos and conservatism within Iranian society during his broadcast career in Tehran, in exile, Farrokhzad’s position hardened and he became a scathing critic of the regime. 

On 7th August 1992, he was found brutally murdered in his small flat in Bonn. The neighbours said his dogs had been barking for two nights; the German police never solved the case.


This then is where the action begins – with a podcast host – portrayed by Asha Reid, taking us through all the competing theories as to who killed Farrokhzad, and why. 

One of the questions this production is attempting to answer is ‘whose truth do we believe?’. Here Reid highlights how willing we are to accept ‘facts’, without any supporting evidence, other than a list of sources in the show notes – which Reid’s knowing presenter knows you’ll never read. 

The show is also about the stories you’ve never heard, which were and are huge news amongst diasporic communities. 

Alipoor segues into a discussion about Subaltern cultures, and how they do not get to write history. Rather, they have to think about the dominant culture where they live, constantly, whilst being simultaneously ignored by that dominant culture.

This in itself leads to further deconstruction of how knowledge is organised, and where the gaps in that knowledge exist, for us as individuals, as well as members of a wider community.

The story within the production sheds layers like an onion: holograms turn out to be members of the band – video projections turn out to be live streams of the performance – until they don’t.

Final Thoughts

There is, perhaps, too much going on here. This is an intriguing story, and the wider points about the ongoing political turmoil in Iran, including how that has personally impacted performer Raam Email, carry less impact than could be expected, given the vast amounts of information being presented.

Conversely, certain sections feel rushed – the podcast/investigation in particular feels like more time could be dedicated to its resolution.

Maybe the solution to these issues is to lengthen the piece, and add an interval? Currently, Things Hidden Since The Foundation Of The World is presented as a 90-minute performance, it feels like the format is limiting the narrative.

An expertly crafted and intricate tale of whose stories get told, by whom, and how, this is a highly entertaining examination of a country, a community, and a culture all too often only ever considered in clichéd and stereotyped terms. 

Things Hidden… continues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe until 27th August

Featured Image Credit: Chris Payne

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