|Photo by Michael Bourchier|
Monkey Baa Theatre Company presents, WHERE THE STREETS HAD A NAME, by Eva Di Cesare, adapted from the novel of the same name by Randa Abdel-Fattah at the Lendlease Darling Quarter Theatre, Darling Harbour Precinct. 5 - 7 September.
WHERE THE STREETS HAD A NAME, is a play adapted from the novel by Randa Abdel-Fattah. It reveals the experience of how ordinary Palestinians negotiate violence and injustice while going about their mundane, everyday lives, as two children go on a quest to fulfil the dying wish of one of their beloved. Says Ms Abdel-Fattah:
Monkey Baa's production beautifully captures how Israel's occupation machinery and policies affect the everyday spaces of people's lives - especially children.I beg to differ about the production but not with its social convictions.
Monkey Baa aims its work at young children of all ages. The audience I saw this production with were a mixture of ages. Their reaction to the material was attentive and in some cases, from specifically Palestinian refugees, and other nation refugees, from Syria, Afghanistan, now living in Fairfield, some tears and identification was made evident.
Playing out the family and other characters of the environment are Mansoor Noor, Dina Gillespie, Alissar Gazal Sitti Zeynab, Aanisa Vylet Hayaat and Sal Sharar. The biggest problem, at the moment, with the play is its fairly perfunctory adaptation by the Writer/Director Eva Di Cesare. For the play, in this production has, mostly, representational caricatures of a mother, father, grandparent and children of either sex, to facilitate the narrative of the difficulties it is to be Palestinian in an occupied military territory, so it can facilitate the apparent novel's social situation, which is of a grossly inhumane proportion. One wishes the writing was better and/or that the acting was better - for the experience to be more than two-dimensional.
The Design, by Antoinette Barboutis, with a back panel of grey cement blocks to represent The Wall, with transparent screens to re-produce the AV Design, by Jerome Pearce, of real images of location, has good 'ideas' but they are not explored with enough scrutiny, by the Director, to contribute to the drama of the story.
This work is clearly, at core, a relevant experience and encounter for the young audience. It could be for a general audience as well - but it can't be in its present dedicated by lack-lustre production.