Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Wednesday, 30 April 2014
Wael Zuaiter: Unknown, April 30, 2014 ****
Jesse Cox. Creative Nonfiction Theatre Works, until May 11, 2014 Reviewer:
Kate Herbert Stars:**** Review also published in Herald Sun onlin on Thurs May 1, 2014 and later in print. KH
Jesse Cox, pic Sarah Walker
Wael Zuaiter: Unknown, Jesse Cox tells a poignant love story about his great-aunt
while simultaneously, and almost by stealth, informing the audience about the
alone at a desk on stage, Cox speaks gently, intimately but directly as he weaves
a complex narrative about his great-aunt, Janet Venn-Brown’s relationship with
her fiance, Wael Zuaiter, a Palestinian intellectual and translator who was
murdered in Rome in October 1972.
episodes of the burgeoning love story between Wael and Janet, Cox threads the mythical,
romantic tale of Sheherezade and The 1001 Nights.
compelling beauty of Cox’s narrative is elevated by remarkable projections that
shift from Aldous Massie’s vividly colourful paintings of Sheherezade to Matt
Huynh’s grim, painterly, black-and-white images that depict Wael’s life.
Joff Bush, who is also on stage, provides evocative music to accompany the
stories and imagery.
Cox’s cool stillness and soothing, almost meditative tone and delivery, there
is a sense of impending doom as he recounts tales of Janet and Wael’s life
together and apart.
structures the show cunningly, telling their story out of chronology so that we
slowly piece together Wael’s character: his love of opera, his move to Rome to
immerse himself in culture, his facility for languages, impracticality and his
desire for a peaceful co-existence of Israelis and Palestinians.
between Cox’s own engaging, direct-to-audience storytelling are swift
explanations of the origins of the state of Israel, the 6-Day War, the murder
of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, the evolution of Israel’s Mossad
and of the Black September terrorists.
then we hear Janet herself, whose recorded voice sounds aged (she is 90),
vulnerable and sad as she relates her version of events leading up to October
1972 and stories of her life as a painter in Rome.
Zuaiter: Unknown will lull you into a romantic daze then gently tilt you into
reality with disturbing stories of loss, war and terror.