CHRISTY Lefteri’s acclaimed 2019 novel The Beekeeper Of Aleppo was always ripe for dramatisation. The story of Nuri, the titular beekeeper, and his wife Afra, it is a tale of war, displacement and the desperate search for refuge.

It is, first and foremost, a powerfully imagined story of specific circumstances. From the shattered normality of the couple’s life in Syria’s second city to their bewildering experience of the UK’s callous asylum system, every aspect of Lefteri’s narrative rings with an essential truth.

However, the story also humanises those who are shamefully demonised by right-wing politicians and newspaper editors as faceless “illegal immigrants”. In that sense, the novel offers a crucial counter-narrative to the “stop the boats” rhetoric of Rishi Sunak and his shameless Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

The National: The Beekeeper of Aleppo Joseph Long, Alfred Clay & Roxy Faridany-077.

It also posits a truth that runs contrary to the vicious hatemongering of the dwindling cabal of fascists and racists who protest against refugees being housed in a declining Erskine hotel.

This stage adaptation by Nesrin Alrefaai and Matthew Spangler resounds with the humanism of the novel. Directed for Nottingham Playhouse by Miranda Cromwell, it succeeds in reflecting both the episodic and the psychological aspects of Lefteri’s story.

We follow our protagonists on a treacherous journey through Turkey, Greece and on, eventually, to England. This combines with flashbacks to Aleppo before the war, and to the catastrophic moment that transformed the lives of Nuri and Afra in an instant.

There is a stinging truth in the official suspicion and heartless bureaucracy the couple face in Europe, despite the fact that, whether through bomb blast or psychological trauma, Afra has lost her sight. The scene in which the pair join a group of other Syrian refugees in a perilous crossing of the Aegean Sea is memorably powerful.

That it is so is thanks, in no small measure, to the work of film designer Ravi Deepres and lighting designer Ben Ormerod. Indeed, throughout the play, the intelligent use of images and lighting transform stage designer Ruby Pugh’s set (a deceptively versatile evocation of a Syrian home and a desert) into an array of locations across two continents.

The National: Projections in use in The Beekeeper of Aleppo (2).

The performances are universally impressive. Alfred Clay’s Nuri is as dignified and decent as he is tortured, both mentally and emotionally. Roxy Faridany’s Afra is equally compelling and sympathetic, not least in a horrifyingly believable episode in Greece.

Joseph Long tackles two very distinct characters – Nuri’s beekeeping cousin Mustafa and a humorous Moroccan man seeking asylum in the UK – with tremendous empathy and dexterity. Indeed, Mustafa’s insightful comment – “where there are bees, there is life and hope” – gives the piece an unexpected ecological dimension.

The National: A tale of refuge…

In truth, there are moments when the play becomes a little static. At two hours and 25 minutes (including interval), it could benefit from a little dramaturgical trimming.

These are minor shortcomings, however, in a splendidly staged, beautifully acted production that positively reverberates with moral decency and political urgency.

Touring until July 1, including Theatre Royal, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 6-10: