POLAND 3 IRAN 2, 30 Bird Productions: Pleasance at Thistle Street Bar (Venue 220): 04 – 28 Aug 2010: 1700 hrs
0131 556 6550 www.30birdproduction.org
Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes no interval
Review: Mark Courtice 23rd August 2010
Boys will be Boys
Poles, like Chris Dubrowski’s Dad, fleeing the Siberian gulag escaped through Iran ("the gate way to freedom") on their way to England. Merhdad Sayf’s family have been radicals in Iran, confronting the state despite the danger and paying the price.
Now, for both men, telling the story of the 1976 World Cup meeting between Poland and Iran offers a chance to remember and celebrate. In the process they explore family legends and histories ranging from the second world war to Solidarity’s strikes by way of the Shah and Iran’s green revolt, so abruptly put down last year.
The show is squeezed into the small front room at the Thistle Street Bar. The format is more lecture than theatre. A screen is used to show documents and family photos. Sayf’s alternating solemn uncles with his glamourous mother, while Dubrowski shows his meticulously documented Subuteo versions of the world cup.
Despite their bumbling approach, rickety technology, and the static format, both performers engage the audience with sly skill. Chris says he has no performance skills, but of course he does. He watches the audience like a hawk, and picks up on clues and cues for spinning his half of the story along.
Sayf is more technically sophisticated, perhaps, as he quietly describes the story of cruelty and vengeance that disfigures Iran’s political history.
Its not really theatre, the format springs no surprises, and its all a bit rambling in a gently laddish fashion, but the cumulative effect is to explore complex issues of global politics and cultural identity in an absorbing hour.
Written and performed by Chris Dobrowski and Merhdad Seyf.