edited by Zoe Lafferty from interviews and material collected by Ruth Sherlock, Paul Wood, Zoe Lafferty.

Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Wine Café 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 11 August 2012.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Captioned 4 Aug 3pm.
Runs 2hr 10min One interval.

TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr no booking fee).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 19 July.

Direct reports from a country being torn apart.
This is a documentary account of courage being shown in one of the most terrifying situations in any country today. And yesterday; and tomorrow; it’s that current. Unlike clear demagogues such as the late Colonel Gaddafi, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad seems plausible and personable on TV – as he does when seen on screens around the Finborough stage in Zoe Lafferty’s production.

But daily, and nightly, as this production plays, his regime is launching the bombs and bullets also seen. This production, compiled from interviews on clandestine visits to Syria, carries information from the front-line. And thereby adds to the words which one person here says, are spoken while people are dying. He’s referring to politicians, the international brigade, stymied as two major countries outside the region stick with the regime.

Verbatim accounts, with only names changed, provide an inferno-ride, from the smiling Damascus hotelier who claims no political interest as his business collapses, through the rebels fighting the regime, and those dodging death to grab internet-bound videos. There’s hope, then crushing reprisals, followed by re-emergence from the dust as people insistently tell their stories.

And torture, and grief. A bereaved mother speaks of what she’d do if she had the President at her mercy. Would she? Or would it become her Death and the Maiden moment, holding back from becoming one with the killers?

Humanity is both strength and weakness. A Free Syrian Army fighter says they could have continued a battle, but wouldn’t subject local people to the regime’s continued bombardment. A group of protesters give-up writing ‘Freedom’ on donkeys, as the donkeys got shot.

The explanation that emerges, apart from a determined, desperate, sticking to power, lies in religious divisions and social position. Roughly an eighth of Syrians are Alawi, including the Assads, who turned this marginal group into the privileged minority.

The playing has the unsensational urgency required to serve the verbatim accounts. Today’s struggle naturally dominates, but behind lies the question of what will emerge when, eventually, someone has to pick up the fractured pieces of Damascus, ‘city of jasmine’ and the rest of the country.

Peter: David Broughton-Davies.
Omar: Nicholas Karimi.
Quataba: Adam Youssefbeygi.
Faha/Mother: Sirine Saba.
Ahmad/Qais: Gareth Glen.
Muhummad/Adrian: Scott Ainslie.
Photographer: Paul Cawley.
Idris/Ismail: John Wark.

Director: Zoe Lafferty.
Designer: Philip Lindley.
Lighting: Miguel Vicente.
Sound: Max Pappenheim.
Multimedia designer: Dan Shorten.
Make-up: Elaine Smith.
Fight director: Tim Klotz.
Dramaturgs: Sonja Linden, Neil McPherson.
Assistant director: George Ransley.

2012-07-23 09:30:33

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