Silken Veils, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh
Tuesday 23 August 2011
Silken Veils' writer and central performer, Leila Ghaznavi, shows no lack of ambition in this show.
Through the lens of a contemporary love story – a young Iranian woman, Darya, getting seriously cold feet on her wedding day – we are also transported back in her memories through the recent history of Iran, the country's political upheavals and subsequently the revolution's devastating impact on her family. To tell these twin stories, a busy cast of four combines live action, puppetry, animation, shadow work and a lot of Rumi poetry.
Some of this is very effective; the combination of human silhouettes and puppets to show her parents' relationship might seem like overkill but actually works smoothly. But the show can feel overstuffed, both in content and form; the attempt to squeeze such large amounts of both political and personal history in means that it feels overwritten. Some images are spot on, others cluttered: so while their puppet handling is emotive, adding another layer of animation, projected on screen, is overdoing it. And while the story evidently carries personal weight, Ghaznavi perhaps isn't the best person to perform it. It feels like the cast may have been selected for reasons other than their acting ability – their multi-tasking skills or their connection to the material perhaps. Some sections, particularly where they pretend to be children or even the poetry-filled love scenes, can come across as trite.
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