by Marion Bott
The Arcola Studio, 24 Ashwin Street, London E* 5DL to 19 May 2018.
Mon-Sat 8pm Mat Sat 3.30pm
Runs 1 hr 45 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7503.
Review: William Russell 23 April.
Possibly a play for today
Marion Bott’s inspiration for her play came from learning that two of her former school mates had gone to fight for ISIS. It led her to create the conflict between a Berlin art teacher, whose life is in a mess anyway – she is about to commit suicide when we meet her, choosing to hang herself from the ceiling in her studio by her cashmere pashmina, as you do. She is interrupted by one of her former pupils, a fugitive from ISIS seeking somewhere to hide, with whom she may or may not have had a relationship.
He is followed by a fellow ISIS supporter, with whom he fought who is either real and also on the run or a ghost who shared in the killings – it was not at all clear. There is no faulting the performances but the exposition of the story is another matter as the teacher and the hunky ex pupil, apparently paint a picture – the canvass is imagined – and then each other. I think they may also have had sex, if the stunningly choreographed activities they get up are that and not just them doing exercises to pass the time.
Ms Bott clearly has something she wants to say about what radicalises young men and women, but she failed to get it across to me. She is, however, very lucky in her cast. Sarah Alles-Shahkarami as the fraught teacher at the end of her tether gives a tense and compelling performance and is well matched by Moe Bar-El and Ali Azhar as the two confused and even scared one time jihadists.
Melissa: Sarah Alles-Shahkarami.
Mehdi: Moe Bar-El.
Khan: Ali Azhar.
Director: Zois Pigadas.
Assistant Director: Marion Bott.
Designer: Sophia Simensky.
Lighting & Sound Designer: Tim Boyd.
Vocal Coach: Christina Gutenkunst.
Movement Coach: Jess Tucker Boyd.