BLOOD AND GIFTS is, at its core, a spy-versus-spy play, laced with black humor. Rogers gives us a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse, evoking the worlds of Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh. At the same time, we get a wonderfully comic set of richly drawn character studies.
The play starts with a CIA agent arriving in Pakistan in 1981 to begin his mission -- covert funding of Afghan freedom fighters. We meet his English and Russian secret-service counterparts, Pakistani military officers, Afghan mujahideen, a US Senator and many others -- each with at least two faces.
We all know how it seemed to turn out back then, with the Afghans taking down the seemingly invincible Soviets thanks to our 'gifts.' But this is not a period piece written in the 1980s. It is a new play written with one eye firmly on our situation now -- still in Afghanistan -- and thus a wry thread of hindsight is woven throughout.
BLOOD AND GIFTS was commissioned by Lincoln Center Theater, and presented in 2010 at the National Theatre in London. An earlier version was presented as part of a cycle of 11 plays about Afghanistan titled The Great Game: Afghanistan at the Tricycle Theatre in London.