From the West Bank
- Kirstin Innes
- 14 May 2010
These three short plays (two world premieres by David Greig and a revival of a work by Franca Rame) are sparse, clean and simply presented. The pared-back staging, language and performances from Cora Bissett, Ewan Donald and Benny Young (all three of whom also direct) results in a tight, unflinching focus on various issues relating to everyday life in the West Bank, although communicated by white faces and Scottish accents.
In An Imagined Sarwar, a 60-something Palestinian and a 20-something Israeli, both of whom spent their childhoods on the same geographical patch of earth, find eventual resolution in their love of these hills and trees. Bissett turns in a splendidly physical performance in Rame’s An Arab Woman Speaks, purportedly a verbatim text, and all the rarer as it confronts lazy Western assumptions about the supposed victimhood of Arab women. The final work, Greig’s Ramallah brings the focus back home again in small scale metaphor: a radio broadcasts the piffling trifles of the leaders debate as a Scottish couple, one of whom has been working in the West Bank, the other, struggling to bring up their children in his absence, attempt to negotiate reconciliation through the barriers of their experience.
At times, both Greig works, especially An Imagined Sarwar, come across as overly didactic; whole swathes of conversation given over to explaining Israeli/Arab relations as the characters defend their allegiances. However, this is a minor criticism of a clear-eyed, unsentimental triple bill, designed to make us stop and consider.
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 22 May