By Yvonne Perczuk, Nur Alam, Raya Gadir, Chris Hill, Marian Kernahan & Ruth Kliman. bAKEHOUSE Theatre Company. KXT – Kings Cross Theatre, Kings Cross Hotel. March 10 – 25, 2017.
Like the long table that dominates the set (designer Courtney Westbrook), this play is also ‘laden’ – with diverse opinions, racial and religious vilification, family values and traditions and strong, passionate characters that articulate their beliefs and emotions in meaningful and judiciously scripted dialogue. It is also ‘laden’ with love surmounts barriers and promises hope.
Three years in the making, the play has brought together six writers in collaboration with an extraordinary collection of Moslem and Jewish Australians who have shared their stories, experiences and ideas. Together they have created a play that they hope will, through the transformative power of theatre, help to break down barriers and promote harmony.
“There are no answers in the play, but we hope that it’s clear that we are all at the same table with so much in common.”
The play entwines two families and their stories. The Fishmans are Jewish. The patriarch, Abe (Geoff Sirmai), is a Holocaust survivor who has recently lost one of his sons in a terrorist attack in Israel. The Ka’adans are Moslem. The matriarch, Zainab (Gigi Sawires), was brought to Australian by her son and daughter-in-law. She is passionate about her religion, and yearns for the home and garden she had to leave when Haifa was attacked.
Her grandson, Mousa, an engineer has recently returned from the Middle East where he met and fell in love with Ruth, an Australian doctor working in Israel – and the granddaughter of Abe Fishman. This is the complication that, in true Greek and Shakespearean theatre style, underlies the plot.
The production truly realises bAKEHOUSE theatre’s double commitment to new and emerging artists, as well as bringing together a large, ensemble cast of diverse backgrounds and experience. But it is no mean feat to direct a play that interweaves two families sitting at the one table but telling two different stories.
Director Suzanne Millar always manages large casts with consummate ease. And this play is no exception. On the intimate KXT stage, she is able to focus on telling eye contact …