When: 8th – 17th July 2010 at 7.45pm
Where: The Old Vic Tunnels, Station Approach Road, London SE1
£: 15 (12 concessions)
What is it?
Aftermath is a piece of documentary theatre based on interviews conducted with Iraqi civilians displaced by the war. The play begins with Rafiq (Ramsey Faragallah), talking towards the audience in Arabic, it is not until Shahid (Fajer Al-Kaisi), a translator, appears that we understand he is simply asking if we would like tea or coffee. The play then reverts to mostly English, and the translator acts as a device to link together the different characters’ interviews. This works fairly well, with the translator telling Iraqi jokes in between to break up the serious nature of the stories we are told. They also use the World Cup qualifiers as a method of binding together the interviews and the audience, as they stop several times during the play to cheer on the Iraqi team.
The civilians come from a good cross-section of Iraqi society. The flashy, Richard Gere loving dermatologist, the artistic couple, the wife and mother, the pharmacist, the cook and the Imam provide us with not only something to relate to, but also an insight into a side of Iraq that we may not be familiar with. Who has thought about what Iraq was really like before the invasion? All we usually hear about is Sadam’s regime, not about the vibrant artistic scene, the pride of a highly educated society, and the surprisingly multi-cultural and close-knit communities that were thriving. We hear about them all. Then we hear about how all of that was destroyed as the regime fell and the US Army occupied the country.
It’s not easy to hear some of the tales of torture, false imprisonment, unlawful killing, death-threats and loss of loved ones. As this is an American play, the US Army bear the brunt of the criticism, for their lack of understanding, their detached cruelty, suspicion, and for allowing the militia to take over. The play doesn’t offer any answers and there is no happy ending. Instead it offers a voice to those who so far haven’t really had one.
Aftermath is on at the Old Vic Tunnels, situated beneath Waterloo Station. The tunnels themselves offer a cool and mildly eerie setting for theatre. The Bunker bar with it’s mish-mash of furniture and décor is like entering a secret club and if you are looking for something a bit different is certainly a good place to start. One bit of advice though, don’t wear white, as the trains rumble overhead there is a possibility you may get a little dusty!
Aftermath is part of LIFT 2010, which runs until the 18th July, with some unique and interesting events still to come.