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Oh My Sweet Land, Young Vic, theatre review

The desperate plight of Syria's refugees conveyed in searing one-woman show

The desperate plight of Syria's two million refugees is searingly and sensitively communicated in this one-woman show, conceived and performed by the half-Syrian actress, Corinne Jaber, and written by its director Amir Nizar Zuabi.

Based on the testimony they gathered in the camps of Lebanon and Jordan, the piece shows us this humanitarian crisis through the eyes of a half-Syrian, Paris-dwelling woman who travels to the Middle East in search of a refugee activist lover who has disappeared. 

While recounting her quest-story, she prepares and cooks kubah, a traditional Syrian dish, as if to calm her agitation with the muscle memory of this ritual, but intimations of atrocity start to gather round the slap of raw meat and the sizzle of boiling oil.

This is not docu-drama in the manner of the verbatim-derived The Fear of Breathing: Stories from the Syrian Revolution at the Finborough.  It's first-person and impressionistic and threaded through with the speaker's memories of her culture-clash childhood. 

But the refugee voices that are relayed – the mother, say, who gave her anxious insomniac children sleeping pills and then could not wake them when the airplanes attacked – are piercing as is the tragic sense of a people who feel abandoned by the West. 

By the end, you certainly don't feel like eating. 

To 3 May; 0207 922 2922