Could You Please Look into the Camera (2 stars)

Clunky, unengaging and under-rehearsed piece on Syria

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Could You Please Look into the Camera

Great theatre will, at some point, emerge from the Arab Spring. This is not it. As rough and raw as a piece about Syria would have to be in the face of unfolding events, Mohammed Al Attar’s patchwork of real people’s experiences of detention is also clunky, unengaging and under-rehearsed.

Three characters, amalgamations of various dissidents interviewed by the playwright, go to Noura’s flat for her to record their stories. Only one, Karim, the young hothead protestor, convinces in any way. Umar Ahmed is charismatic and believable, throwing back vodka, arranging his hair in the lens before filming commences, complaining about his father. The other two have to pack so much procedural into their monologues that there is no room for anything else.

Alia Alzougbi’s Noura is jumpy and unconvincing, failing to connect either with the people she is shooting or the audience. The staging makes clever use of the film trope and, at the end, when Noura is herself incarcerated and appears on a TV screen, it’s the only impressive part of her performance.

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 28 Apr. Seen at Oran Mor, Glasgow, Mon 16 Apr

A Play, a Pie & a Pint: Could You Please Look into the Camera

The lunchtime theatre slot is filled by a play by an anonymous Syrian playwright, cutting straight to the heart of the current political and social maelstrom in the country. The piece tells the story of a young woman attempting to document the lives of anti-regime activists, and finding herself in danger as a result.

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