By Samah Sabawi. Directed by Bagryana Popov. La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton. May 29 – June 9, 2019.

Samah Sabawi employs humour and irony to tackle a highly sensitive topic and effectively infiltrates the essential humanity of the story. The play takes place in a war-stricken state somewhere in the Middle-East and portrays the lives of the local people who are forced to confront life and death decisions on a daily basis.

A young couple, Leila (Priscilla Doueihy) and Omar (Abdulrahman Hammoud) are at the centre of these horrific choices. Their determination not to abandon their home is contrasted by the actions of others such as Omar’s sister, Salma (Claudia Greenstone), and their close friends Majid (Khisraw Jones-Shukoor) and Mohamad (Reece Vella). This troublesome contrast is continually juxtaposed with more everyday concerns such as love and romance, song and dance and playful teasing of friends. The effect is very striking as the lighter moments in the difficult lives of these vibrant and hopeful people is constantly interrupted by the soul-destroying realities of war. Even set changes are sometimes treated like combat and this highlights the sense of terror that overshadows their lives.

The portrayal of an ordinary group of people, who are essentially robbed of the future they deserve, makes the story incredibly relatable. The power of this play is conveyed via the skilful manner in which the performers are able to inhabit the vastly different moods. This produces a forceful reminder that these kinds of tragic circumstances shouldn’t happen to anyone. 

Patricia Di Risio 

Image by Justyn Koh

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