By Suzanne Sandow
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 is a doctor who runs a medical clinic in the USA and she 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.
It’s the quality of story presented here, or perhaps the resonance it holds that truly defines this performance. Set amidst the conflict in Gaza, a world that for many Australians would seem far away, but through focusing on the individual stories, it somehow brings these two counter realties within three degrees of separation, driving home a message of our universal need for love, safety and home. Read more
Calls for a controversial play depicting life in Gaza to be removed from the Victorian school curriculum have been rejected by the state government.
By Mary Hughes
At the centre of this devastating love story is the Israel-Palestine conflict and the affect it has on daily life. Palestinian-Canadian-Australian playwright Samah Sabawi has set the work in an inhospitable land where bombs are ceaselessly dropped on the houses of innocent people, making it a nearly-impossible place for young love to flourish. Rami, a brave but foolish American-born Palestinian doctor arrives illegally in a refugee camp on a Free Gaza boat and falls in love with Jomana, a Palestinian woman. She sees through his cocky façade to his kind heart, but will only commit to spending her life with him if he agrees to stay in Palestine. Though obviously tempted, Rami, raised comfortably in Texas, is unsure if he can see himself raising a family in the same world where he sees children injured by bombs in hospital every day. This is a fantastically told story of two worlds colliding. Choosing to stay would mean leaving his family and career behind, while leaving would mean not only losing Jomana but also ignoring the plight of the Palestinians. An elegantly simple set designed by Lara Week is perfect for actors Nicole Chamoun and Osamah Sami to excel in their lead roles.
Original review is published here