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Gharb

Published Friday 15 October 2004 at 13:45 by Chris Bartlett

Ever asked yourself how long it takes to die from a stab wound?

Probably not, but confronted by the central premise of Dutch writer/director Cyrus Frisch’s British debut and you would be forgiven for answering 39 minutes too long, if the process is going to be played out in all its agonising detail.

But that would be doing Frisch’s short, sharp blast of a play a supreme injustice. Because this tale of the aftermath of a violent clash between neo-Nazis and Amsterdam’s Arab community, which finds two representatives of both camps injured and holed up in a pitch-black alleyway, is about as effective as studio theatre can be.

Shorn of the set and effects of its Netherlands run, Frisch’s decision to stage the action in an almost total blackout, punctuated by the odd, tantalising spark from a lit cigarette, gives the piece an intimacy that is almost too much too bear. While for such a contrived situation the dialogue - well executed by an utterly convincing Ali Cifteci as Ibn and Cees Geel as right-winger Johnny - is also refreshingly cliché-free.

Frisch’s utter resistance to absolutes, portraying both sides as human and vulnerable, smacks a little of worthiness. The illiberal attitudes of the extreme right need a tougher examination than it gets here, where all we learn about Johnny’s motivation is that “something went wrong in my breeding”.

But this is a small minus in play with a power and intensity that has to be seen - or, in this case, not seen - to be believed.

Production information

Oval House, London, October 11-13

Author/director:
Cyrus Frisch
Producer:
Theater Frascati
Cast:
Cees Geel, Ali Cifteci
Running time:
40mins

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15
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