By Amer Hlehel. Directed by Amir Nizar Zuabi. Adelaide Festival. Space Theatre. 15-18 March, 2018.

Though this solo performance may, at first glance, appear to be a tale of autobiography by its performer – such is the passion and personal touch with which Amer Hlehel presents it – Taha is, in fact, a spirited, richly textured telling of selected experiences from the life of Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali (1931-2011).

Drawing its inspiration from Adina Hoffman’s biographical book My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness, as well as directly from the poet’s own works, Hlehel’s text – translated by director Amir Nizar Zuabi - mostly strikes just the right tone to communicate this story to appreciative worldwide audiences: that of a big-hearted, good-humoured, warm-natured artist, wanting his family to be able to live in peace, and striving so that they may someday be proud of his achievements.

With a smart blend of universal emotional detail and insightful cultural specificity, Hlehel manages - utilising only a minimalist-but-striking stage square designed by Ashraf Hanna, and assisted greatly by Muaz Jubeh’s subtly effective lighting - to take us into a world far removed in many ways from that of most Adelaide audience members; a place that may be scarred by conflict and tragedy, but also - as the words of Taha Muhammad Ali demonstrate - where love, optimism, and humanity survive and flourish in any way, big or small, that they possibly can.

Anthony Vawser

More Adelaide Festival 2018 Reviews

To keep up with the latest news and reviews at Stage Whispers, click here to like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.