Revolutionary Days, Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh ****
Maryland, Traverse Theater, Edinburgh (repeat play)
Happiness was there in this dawn of being alive; and being young was truly heaven, âwrote William Wordsworth of his experience of the French Revolution of 1789; and it is because of the blissful intensity of these moments of uplifting and hope – the music, the graffiti and the brilliant graphics, the humor, the song, the intense sense of equality and humanity. shared among all the different groups represented in the movement – let nothing crush the human soul like a defeated or gone revolution.
Mariem Omari’s solo piece Revolution days, seen briefly in Edinburgh and Glasgow this week, is a powerful and heartbreaking monologue, based on her own real life experience as a humanitarian worker in the Middle East during the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ era ten years ago , and performed by Raghad Chaar, herself arriving in Scotland from Syria at the age of two in the 1990s. The 70-minute play – supported by powerful projected images of the time, designed by Lewis den Hertog – tells the story of Samira, an idealistic young Muslim woman from Glasgow who travels to the Middle East to work as a human rights witness for the UN. then MÃ©decins Sans FrontiÃ¨res, and is faced with a relentless experience of both the poverty and oppression that led to the revolutions, and the violence that follows them, including the sexual violence that spontaneously and sickeningly emerges from the revolutions. revolutionary movements themselves.
Omari’s play, directed by Shilpa T Hyland, struggles relentlessly and fascinatingly with perhaps unanswered questions about the proper response to such horrors, on the part of those of us who live far away. current conflict zones; on one level Samira does what she can, on another she feels useless, a naive and condescending beneficent in the midst of a world of pain. And if the pace of the script and performance slows a bit towards the end – when Samira’s health deteriorates and she tries to understand the impact of these witnessed horrors on her mind and body – Revolution Days remains a challenge. lively, complex and unforgettable. show, which links our lives here in Scotland to the deep pain of the world in which we live, and demands of us, especially in this week, that we at least show a certain human kindness and hospitality, towards the survivors of these horrors that are coming to our shores.
This week of the refugee crisis also marked the United Nations Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Thursday; and the Traverse Theater responded to the occasion by staging three repeat readings – not for review – of leading British playwright Lucy Kirkwood Maryland, her brief and furious 30-minute response to the notorious murder of Sarah Everard earlier this year by police officer Wayne Couzens. The play also makes reference to the case of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, the two sisters murdered in a west London park, whose bodies were later photographed and jokingly posted on WhatsApp by police officers.
Essentially, the show tells the story of two Marys – played in this reading by Rehanna Macdonald and Elspeth Turner – raped by the same man, and their visit to the police station to testify, which ultimately takes a frightening turn. The true power of the piece, however – performed here by Kolbrun Bjort Sigfusdottir – lies in the interweaving of their story with the commentaries of a choir of six Furies women, who satirize, warn and sometimes shout their horror at the violence that women continue to suffer, day after day. Maryland is a short, but vital text, reflecting the rage and sorrow of the past year; and this should be reviewed as often necessary, until we see a change in all cultures that encourage such attitudes towards women, and therefore ultimately complicit in such horrific acts.
Revolution Days at the Tramway, Glasgow, November 26-27; Maryland, race over
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