Wednesday, 11 May 2005
Through the Wire by Ros Horin, May 11, 2005
Through the Wire by Ros Horin
Performing Lines & Melbourne Theatre Company
Grant Street Theatre May 11 to 22, 2005
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on May 11, 2005
Through the Wire, written and directed imaginatively by Ros Horin, is the next in a growing list of plays about asylum seekers in Australia - and perhaps the best so far.
The play is composed from verbatim transcripts of interviews with refugees from Iran and Iraq. One of these refugees, Shahin Shafaei, an Iranian playwright and actor, plays himself on stage.
This production is compelling because of the richness and authenticity of the stories it tells. Like other plays on this topic, it puts a face to the refugee and enables even sceptics to feel a connection to the victims of our detention centres.
This is nto to suggest that Through the Wire is emotionally manipulative. The play is quite restrained in its style.
The frequent direct address to audience and viewing of the horrors with hindsight, provides some Brechtian distance. This allows us to view the stories compassionately, but rationally.
The focus is on four men in detention and three women who befriend them.
Shahin, we hear, was banned from writing plays or performing in theatre but, when Iranian authorities discovered that one of his plays was being performed in a university show, his life was at risk.
He fell in love with, and still lives with, Gaby, (Eloise Oxer) a young detention centre guard.
Farshid, (Wadih Dona) discovered a plot to poison a prominent a young Iranian and his life was at risk. His mistake was to believe that being honest and telling authorities in Australia that his New Zealand passport was false would work in his favour.
Mohsen (Ali Ammouchi OK) was a whistleblower on judicial corruption in a court case regarding an intelligence officer and therefore under threat. He was befriended and supported by Suzanne, (Rhondda Findleton OK) a psychotherapist who took his desperate phne calls day and night.
The fourth man, Rami, (Hazem Shamas OK) was not even politically active. While doing work experience as a concierge in a five-star hotel, he went against authorities' directives by giving directions to a restaurant to a Westerner during the period of UN weapons inspection.
Rami's comrade was a woman of Jewish-South African background. His panic and despair was assuaged to some extent by her concern and love.
Heide Riederer's design provides a marvellously spare and abstract set of metal bars and cyclone wire cages. Live music by Jamal Alrakabi not only evokes the Middle East but provides a vivid soundscape to these remarkable tales.
By Kate Herbert