Disgraced is a hugely academic and content-heavy piece. At times it feels a little like a university seminar, as concepts and theories as far-ranging as Orientalism, Cultural Appropriation, religion and westernism, and the role of art in contemporary society are banded about freely and regularly. The audience has to make a concerted effort in order to keep up. It is lucky, therefore, that this effort is richly rewarded by this thoughtful, emotive and brutally exhausting production, pummelling audiences before releasing them back into Shepherd’s Bush.

Amir Kapoor is a high-flying lawyer. He lives comfortably with his artist wife Emily in their spacious apartment in New York. Amir’s nephew is Hussein, currently going by the name Abe, as he struggles to discover his true American Muslim identity. This is an identity whose Islamic element has already been rejected whole-heartedly by Amir, in part due to his clear atheism, but in part also due to the conscious and subconscious anti-Islamic xenophobia apparently prevalent within the US. Amir and Emily host a dinner party for Isaac, who plans to display Emily’s work in an upcoming exhibition, and Jory, Amir’s colleague from the firm. The simmering undercurrent of tension during the dinner makes for uncomfortable viewing as polite conversation makes way for meaty and barbed theological musings; the actions of Israel, or “the blush of pride” Amir felt on 9/11, or his belief that the hours he puts in at work, coupled with the lack of recognition, makes him “the real nigger”, not the African-American Jory. Post-dinner party, Emily’s prior relationship with Isaac is exposed, provoking shocking scenes of violence from Amir, who also learns that he will never progress at work due to his supposed extreme religious sympathies.

With content such as this, it is testament to Ayad Akhtar’s writing (which won him the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama) and Nadia Fall’s direction that the audience does not feel lectured or lost at any point, a risk bearing in mind Disgraced’s raw and provocative themes. The space itself, with an entrance at three of the four corners, clean lines and lighting you’d expect from a trendy New York apartment, is very visually pleasing and allows for fluid movement, ensuring that at no point does Disgraced become stodgy or cumbersome. The only clue to Disgraced’s brutal ending comes from the lights that occasionally flicker ominously after scenes, or the police sirens, whose wails from the London life outside penetrate this New York bubble with inadvertent relevance. Full credit to Jaimie Todd’s design.

The performances themselves cannot be faulted; Hari Dhillon smoulders as Amir, providing a menacing charisma that ultimately comes to the boil with horrifying consequences. Kirsty Bushell is engaging as Emily, an intelligent and independent woman, yet a woman who is also naive in attempting to adopt Muslim artwork as her own. Nigel Whitmey and Sara Powell display a magnetic rapport which is fun to watch, and Danny Ashok’s turn as Abe/Hussein is more nuanced than first meets the eye, revealing much about the situation for young Muslim, and indeed Asian, Americans today.

Disgraced ends with Amir staring at a portrait painted of him so lovingly by Emily in Act I, staring at the man he once was. This is harrowing and powerful theatre. Disgraced has a complex and strikingly current message to deliver – I hope many people receive it.