Tales of a City by the Sea

Tales of a City by the Sea
By Samah Sabawi. La Mama Courthouse. May 11 – 29, 2016

An excellent ensemble of multicultural performers work closely collectively to draw together and express the story of star crossed lovers who are both, perhaps a little surprisingly, Palestinian.

He, Rami (Osamah Sami) is a doctor who runs a medical clinic in the USA and she, Jomana (Helana Sawires) a journalist who was born and raised in the Shanti (beach) Refugee Camp in Gaza. He comes and goes into this volatile site of the bitter struggle of the siege of Gaza that took place in 2008.  They are just like young lovers from anywhere and any culture. 

It is not a story of conflict, of brutal ingrained enmity between Israeli and Palestinian but a story of romantic love with a backdrop of engrained enmity that’s conflict extends into every nook and cranny of life. 

This poetic production is framed with the glorious haunting Arabic songs sung by Aseel Tayah who is dressed in traditional costume.   And staged on a set (Lara Week) of curtains (apparently made of sheets) that allow for a flow of expressive imagery and the creation of potentially unlimited environments.  The sea is a very strong motif as emphasized through sound as designed by Khaled Sabsabi.

As a piece of theatre it has an engaging and engrossing through its linear narrative and all performances honor the writing that is glistening poetry at times.

Generous nurturing direction by debuting director Wahibe Moussa, with an emphasis on emotional sincerity that is at times frustratingly static, supports the poetic nature of Samah Sabawi’s writing and endorses clarity.  Perhaps with some more time, inventive and adventurous, risks in staging could have been played with and incorporated.

This is a work that all creative artists, cast and La Mama should feel great pride in bringing to a Melbourne audience.

Suzanne Sandow


Original Direction – Lech Mackiewicz

Remount Direction – Wahibe Moussa

Set Design Lara Week

Lighting Design – Shane Grant

Sound Design - Khaled Sabsabi


Jomana – Helena Sawires

Rami - Osamah Sami

Lama/Relative at Hospital – Emina Ashman

Ali – Reece Valla

Abu Ahamad/Relative at Hospital – Alex Pinder

Samira/Relative at Hospital/Wedding Guest – Rebecca Morton

Nurse/Um Ahmad/Security/Mother – Cara Whitehouse

Singer – Asell Tayah

Mohanad/Security/Father/Wedding Guest – Ubaldino Mantelli

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