68* Years Of Palestine Shows Us What The Media Doesn't: Review

Scenes from 68* Years, Arcola ★★★★★

By Savannah Whaley Last edited 31 months ago
68* Years Of Palestine Shows Us What The Media Doesn't: Review Scenes from 68* Years, Arcola 5
Photo by Ellie Kurtz of Taghrid Choucair-Vizoso and Maisa Abd Elhadi (on screen).

In a series of vignettes which span the 68 years of Palestine's occupation, Hannah Khalil's remarkable play gives a rare and alternative insight into Palestinian life.

Khalil's scenarios move deftly back and forth between years and settings. The snapshots range from the disturbing (a young male soldier asking a sex-worker to enact his fantasy of being brutalised by a female solder), to the mundane (the endless queuing that takes over much of these characters' daily lives). Lives collide and cross each other on stage, filling the Arcola's studio space with vibrant energy.

It's not all doom and gloom: moments of panic and trauma are interspersed casually amongst the everyday — a mother waking up a young son who doesn't want to leave his bed, a family argument around the dinner table, three women chatting in the park.

This production lets us in to the side of Palestine life that we don’t see on mainstream media. Despite the underlying threat of violence, characters' experiences feel familiar — their interactions imbued with a humour that charms the audience and makes the action relatable and entertaining.  

The stories weave in and out of each other in a performance that works like a beautiful piece of music. The cast move simply and convincingly between roles, and its ensemble nature is reinforced through moments of movement and song.

Paul Burgess's set, which comprises of a heap of props reminiscent of a rubble pile after a bomb blast, offers all that is needed to create the various settings of each scenario — this resourceful approach to a stage set manages to effectively give the sense of the play's eponymous span.

Scenes from 68* Years runs at the Arcola until 30 April. Tickets £17/£12. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 13 April 2016