The Hub, Edinburgh
Five women look out to sea on the island they live on. The older women are set in their isolated ways. The younger are restless. One who was married to the older woman’s son wants to get away. The only men in the picture - oddly with names resembling characters from Moby Dick - are either dead or else lost to the mainland, as signified by the opening image of this new play written, directed and designed by Attila Pessyana for his Iran-based Bazi Theatre Company. A dummy, first lying buried in the sand, is then raised up to a sitting position, only to fall limp once more. What follows over the next hour is a deeply symbolic work of collective purging that taps into age-old rites via a darkly foreboding intensity and a hypnotic sense of its own stark stillness.
This is a fascinating opportunity to see Pessyana’s work, his first on a major platform since Bazi’s UK debut in 2002. with an oddity called The Mute Who Was Dreamed. Where that play’s symbolic nature was at times opaque, here its classical roots make it obvious. The portents of doom and unspoken tensions date back as far as The Trojan Women, which itself influenced both Lorca’s The House Of Bernarda Alba and Ariel Dorfman’s under-whelming mid 1990s play, Widows.
Here, however, there is no context of war, but of a belief system which still puts its faith in ancient superstitions. The end result, led by the persistent pulse of Ankido Darash’s electronic score, and performed beautifully by five actresses, is an intimate insight into life and death in an all-at-sea society which, while unfamiliar, remains hauntingly real.
The Herald, August 26th 2008