Monday, November 17, 2014 – 10:49
What: Tales of the City by the Sea
When: November 12 –23
Where: La Mama Courthouse
Written by Samah Sabawi
Directed by Lech Mackiewicz
Assistant Director: Izabella Mackiewicz
Performed by Nicole Chamon, Osamah Sami, Emily Coupe, Majid Shokor, Wahibe Moussa, Reece Vella, Aseel Tayeh, Ubaldino Mantelli and Cara Whitehouse
Set design by Lara Week
Lighting design by Shane Grant
Sound design by Khaled Sabsabi
When I hear the phrase ‘the city by the sea’ I think of a place of peacefulness, natural beauty and a place to fall in love. Tales of the City by the Sea tells a story from Gaza. Gaza is a city by the sea but does not associate with the thoughts I have written above. It associates with constant deadly attacks on humans by other humans, suffering, death, shame and incapability of the world to end the violence. Have you ever searched images of Gaza on the web? They have been suffering so much for so long that one is inclined to give up hope.
Tales of the City by the Sea tells us the story of people living in Gaza who keep dreaming, loving, giving birth to new lives, and hoping. It is a love story between a Palestinian poet and journalist Jomana (Nicole Chamon) and a doctor Rami (Osamah Sami) a Palestinian who was born and lives in America. The story begins rather calmly but then the siege over the city takes the lovers apart and then the bombing starts and tears everything apart. There is also a beautiful side story about another Palestinian couple who are engaged.
The most remarkable thing about the story for me was that it profoundly managed to portray how the perception of time can be different under diverse conditions. It reminded me how we let the time pass while we keep waiting for things to happen, and that the idea of having time to wait is a luxurious illusion.
The set design was composed of curtains hanging down from three rows of ropes. It was highly adjustable and cleverly set the scene for different places and moods. It managed to make me feel both the sense of freshness coming from the sea, and the sense of captivity coming from the siege at the city. It also carried the play a little bit away from the realistic conventions. The acting and the directing styles remained faithful to the conventions of realism which was a down side for my taste. I enjoy witnessing the precariousness of the stage, rather than the rationality of the ‘real’. The acting was generally pretty good but had its moments of inconsistency.
Touching songs sung by the beautiful and passionate voice of Tayah made the story even more touching. I could hear sniffing noises coming from all around the theatre after the second half of the play. In my defence, I was sniffing because of my allergies…
Tales of the City by the Sea was a touching play portraying many horrible things happening on this world. Nevertheless, the play wondrously achieves to give hope and prevents you from giving up on Gaza.