Scorched, Old Vic Tunnels, London
Thursday 09 September 2010
Like siblings of Oedipus, the Lebanese twins Janine and Simon – she's a maths teacher, he's a boxer – set out to discover the truth of their own origins, and the story of their dead mother, Nawal, in the aftermath of civil war and a criminal trial.
For the Canada-based Lebanese playwright Wajdi Mouawad, born seven years before the war broke out in 1975, and a fugitive with his parents, this play must also constitute a way of confronting the horrors and the tragedy of massacres, enforced separation, an inhumane militia and the refugee camps in the south of the country.
Patricia Benecke's production in the dank and atmospheric setting of brick tunnels under Waterloo Station – the rumble of the trains above rolls into a volley of machine-gun fire – has trouble joining up the dots.
It's a bumpy ride in the first act, with too much pointless explanation, and a less-than-hilarious solicitor who discharges his legal duty with a garnish of misfired malapropisms. But the drama gathers density, and the choric spate of revelations is both shocking and absorbing.
This is mainly due to the haunting performance of Jennie Stoller as Nawal, bathing her experience in a wash of anger and sadness; her younger selves (Jennifer Kidd and Caroline Loncq) represent the star-crossed lover of her youth and the avenging rape victim of her middle-age. Her story spears to the heart of political corruption.
The twins are played with fervour by Richard Simons and Sirine Saba, and there are clever, quick-change contributions from Stephen Finegold and Christopher Patrick Nolan as soldiers and shepherds. You do get a real sense of a country in turmoil, and a feeling that Nawal's story is also a matter of local mythology. At a rock by the white trees, you can still hear the laughter of a young girl and her refugee lover.
To 2 October (0844 871 7628)
A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend
A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Three of Pope Francis' relatives die in Argentina car crash, including two young great-nephews
- 2 Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
- 3 Here’s the damning letter Robin Williams wrote to his Mrs Doubtfire co-star's principal after they expelled her
- 4 Ferguson protests: 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein ‘arrested’ by police during St Louis demonstrations
- 5 Cilla Black defends Cliff Richard: 'I am positive that the allegations are without foundation'
JK Rowling releases new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing Celestina Warbuck, the 'Singing Sorceress'
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermesiter and vodka
Celebrity Big Brother 2014 contestants: Meet Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney
Kate Bush: Previously unseen photographs reveal new side to comeback star
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
World peace? These are the only 11 countries in the world that are actually free from conflict