My Name Is Rachel Corrie review at the Other Room, Cardiff – ‘youthful energy’

Shannon Keogh in My Name Is Rachel Corrie at the Other Room, Cardiff. Photo: Kieran Cudlip Shannon Keogh in My Name Is Rachel Corrie at the Other Room, Cardiff. Photo: Kieran Cudlip

Just a week after a production of My Name Is Rachel Corrie opened at the Young Vic, a second opens at the Other Room in Cardiff.

Directed by Chelsey Gillard, this is the first work by Graphic, a new company that takes its inspiration from visual culture and the potential for pictures to communicate more than words.

Accordingly, the opening image is a striking one. Political activist Rachel Corrie (Shannon Keogh) is curled in an armchair. Oliver Harman’s set mixes the detritus of a teenager’s bedroom – tangled clothes, diaries and ballpoint pens – with a floor of sand. It’s a poignant reminder of how Corrie’s Middle Eastern politics combined with her otherwise mundane youthful lifestyle.

Keogh makes a self-assured professional debut, emphasising the precocity and energy in Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner’s edited text. She clambers onto and around the armchair, quipping with ease about gardening, neoliberal ideology and daddy complexes. This aliveness of spirit serves only to make the foreknown ending more tragic.

The intensity of delivery, and the static positioning of Keogh at the front of the stage in the latter half, undermines the subtlety of the play. The effectiveness and sadness of Gillard’s production, however, lies in its portrayal of Corrie as studiously normal – a young woman making lists, having crushes and noticing the glow-in-the-dark-stars in Palestinian bedrooms. As Corrie herself remarked: “We’re all just kids curious about other kids.”

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A confident debut performance imbues this revival with youthful energy