Skip to main content

Queens of Syria

Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh
Four stars

Out of the darkness, thirteen Syrian women line up wrapped in a multitude of coloured robes and head-scarves. Speaking in their own language, they become the chorus of Euripides' battle-scarred tragedy, The Trojan Women, telling of fictional peers robbed of everything they had by battles not of their making. This is just a prologue, however, for the series of real life testimonies that come from the frontline of the war these women fled from, seeing refuge in strange lands in what they repeatedly call 'the boats of death'.

Over a brooding minimalist underscore, each woman takes it in turn to read letters, to their parents, children, brothers and sisters they left behind. Delivered directly to the audience, the women's' experiences are still raw, and there are moments when you fear they might not get through it. As their words are undercut by more passages from Euripides, however, the women gain strength from Hecuba, Andromache and Cassandra.

Zoe Lafferty's no-frills production was developed out of a drama therapy project and brought to Edinburgh as part of a UK tour in a collaboration forged by the Developing Artists company, Refuge Productions and the Young Vic. If that suggests a show full of liberal platitudes, think again. As one of the women says, they are not here to entertain us. They are angry, and they have a million stories to tell.

The result of this is a dramatic hymn of fury and sorrow, but which, in its delivery, becomes a fearless and profound act of defiance from a disparate group of survivors. By coming together in this way, they have reclaimed a power that speaks much louder than bombs.

The Herald, July 21st 2016

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…