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|A CurtainUp London Review
truth and reconciliation
I have |
twenty-two years of
to wonder on. And live with.
With no body
They have had
twenty-two years knowing.
And not saying.
debbie tucker green’s (the lack of capitals are her choice) new play for the Royal Court is set in a room where witnesses wait to tell of an atrocity to the tribunal that will look at crimes and killings committed when there was conflict or war or political oppression. The title of the play comes from the process set up to achieve "truth and reconciliation" after the sides have come together. Spanning conflict from Northern Ireland, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Bosnia, the play illustrates what the victims have in common but as we switch from scene to scene we hear the truth but do not reach reconciliation.
Petra Letang and Don Gilét as the Zimbabwean wife and husband (Photo: Stephen Cummiskey)
tucker green's writing has always had a poetic feel: there is power on the page with her choice of language which is often very concise but measured. These are fragments of the stories, the Bosnian woman raped by two Serb soldiers and now heavily pregnant, the mother and grandmother of a fourteen year old South African girl killed in 1976 whose killer is brought to account 22 years later, a Zimbabwean woman who chooses to speak out against what is happening in her country, in Rwanda, a Tutsi woman confronting the Hutu man who killed her husband and in Northern Ireland two women from opposite sides of the religious and political divide each vehemently defending their son.
The performances, although transient, are convincing but the themes stay with you long after the 65 minutes of the play. Most memorable is Cecilia Noble as Nana the South African grandmother who tries to get her daughter Mama (Pamela Novete) to sit down and who talks about the hardness of the chairs and the length of time they are kept waiting. When her daughter expresses that she has had 22 years of waiting, wanting to know what has happened to her daughter, the impact contrasts powerfully.
On the backdrop chalked titles light up to tell us the year and the place. The theatre upstairs has been reconfigured with everybody, audience and cast alike, sitting on hard wooden chairs and on the floor swirling flashes of yellow shine through the black rubber tarmac.
The vignettes show what is being attempted in these hearings but realistically do not show any solutions. What the playwright conveys is the sense that they are waiting to confront their aggressors, waiting for this moment to come when they will be heard, their only opportunity to redress the wrongs. The most they could hope for is a kind of closure but the stories stay with us.
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|truth and reconciliation
Written and directed by debbie tucker green
With: Vanessa Babirye, Fiston Barek, Richie Campbell, Clare Cathcart, Ruairi Conaghan, Don Gilet, Ivanno Jeremiah, Colm Gormley, Joyce Greenaway, Ivanno Jeremiah, Petra Letang, Louis Mahoney, Aleksandar Mikic, Wunmi Mosaku, Sarah Niles, Cecilia Noble, Pamela Nomvete, Wanda Opalinska, Chris Reilly, Aliash Tepina, Izabella Urbanowicz, Susan Wokoma and Ashley Zhangazha.
Designed by Lisa Marie Hall
Lighting: Matt Haskins
Sound: Gareth Fry
Running time: 65 minutes without an interval
Box Office: 020 7565 5000
Booking to 24th September 2011
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 5th September 2011 performance at The Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square London SW1 W 8AS (Tube: Sloane Square)
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