You write the reviews: My Name is Rachel Corrie, Tarragon Theatre, Toronto

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The Independent Culture

My Name Is Rachel Corrie, assembled from emails, notes, messages and personal journals, is an absolutely staggering piece of verbatim theatre, encapsulating not only the grand sweep of a young woman's politicisation, but the rolling human tragedy that is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Directed originally by its co-creator, Alan Rickman, at London's Royal Court, it tells the story of a young woman's journey from gawky, clumsy, high-school adolescent, with dreams of being a poet or dancer, to gnarled, bitter fighter of the planet's all-consuming injustice. Rachel Corrie's frighteningly short life ended at the age of 23 in the dry earth of the Gaza Strip at the steel foot of an Israeli Caterpillar D9 bulldozer.

In the play, we witness a seamless metamorphosis from childhood to womanhood, from naivety to brutal reality. Bethany Jillard portrays Rachel as a cracker-barrel of life, a wild, vivacious, warm and humorous woman deftly traversing the hideous human terrain of unfathomable hatred and pointless, arbitrary death.

Corrie was appalled by those who believe that the crisis would subside if the Arabs put down their arms. But, how, she pleaded, can an occupied people, whose houses are razed, whose crops are destroyed and who endure morning-long security checks, remain inanimate and silent? Wouldn't you, she implored, when faced by such hopelessness, resort to rusting rifles and homemade missiles?

Rachel here swings about poles, types home and ponders the future. A lesser actor might descend into some Carrie Bradshaw whimsy, but it is a mark of the clarity of Kate Lushington's direction and the versatility of the performer that she didn't.

Taking place on a plain, uncluttered set, posing as bedroom, camp, car journey, office, this production is a riveting document of one individual's battle against inequities far too great to solve.

One hopes her death was not in vain. Rachel, a small-town girl from Olympia, Washington, died on 16 March 2003. Lebanon was invaded in 2006. And, as I write, Hamas and Israeli Security Forces are locked in a mutual mistrust that makes widows of mothers and orphans of newborns. How many more martyrs shall be added to the list?

Pete Goodland, student, Sheffield

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