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Hearts Unspoken

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
4 stars
Asylum seeking, as only those in the thick of things can fully realise,
is a minefield. Just when you think you've found the UK's apparently
promised land as a haven from whichever brutal regime you're on the run
from, a brand new set of oppressions appear. So it goes in this
semi-verbatim piece by director Sam Rowe, which looks at the hitherto
unexplored complexities of seeking refuge on the grounds of sexual
orientation rather than race or religion.

Based on interviews with real-life refugees, through a trio of
criss-crossing monologues Rowe's play lays bare a litany of
institutionalised homophobia in countries which would rather sweep such
ills under the carpet along with the rest of their human rights
records. Where such true stories could be delivered with understandable
anger, Rowe has his cast relate things with a matter-of-factness so
calm it borders on meditation. In a piece too where simply putting a
Senegalese, a Pakistani and an Iraqi in the same room sounds like the
sickest of jokes, what emerges is a work of quiet elegance that lends a
power to its subject mere hectoring could not.

With little more to play with onstage than a metal table, actors
Roderick Cowie, Asif Dewan and Tonderai Munyevu allow their characters
to slip in and out of each others stories as if relaying some umbilical
solidarity. Why this hauntingly evocative seventy-five minute miniature
wasn't programmed as part of the forthcoming Glasgay festival, let
alone last summer's Scottish Refugee Festival, is a mystery, although
one suspects the mundanities of scheduling dictated both decisions. As
it is, as with its subjects, it's a play that might find a home yet.

The Herald, September 9th 2011

ends

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