‘From the Rubble’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by March 17, 2015

‘From the Rubble’ is the World Premiere of the collection of stories of women in conflict zones, conceived by WA’s award winning, foreign correspondent, Sophie McNeill. The tales are gripping and captivating glances at the tragic happenings in ten of the poorest and most oppressed countries in the world today. It is obvious from the opening scene that this story has been written from the heart and genuine experience of fear and suffering, not simply by a reporter sitting in a warm, safe office in Perth.

This Perth Theatre Company’s fascinating and gobsmacking production employs paper, projection and performance. It is presented in association with the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, at the PICA theatre performance space in Northbridge.

The 1-hour enthralling performance starts each evening – Tuesday until Saturday – at 7.30 until Saturday the 28th March. There are various matinees and school performances (for years 9 – 12), at 11 am and 2.00 pm.

 

The stage is enclosed by the front of three, whitewashed mud and brick houses in a Middle East remote area. Rubble is strewn around the conflict zone. The town appears deserted.

       Three young girls (Tina Torabi, Mikala Westall and Mei Saraswati) are playing in the rubble, dreaming of owning a home. A home being somewhere that they can have their family and a few treasured belongings, rather than the room they exist in at present, with 50 relatives.

      Well-known TV new reporter, Tracey Vo, cowers as she relates the terrible happenings taking place around her.

      We follow them through war, attempts of escape, along with the deaths of their relatives. We learn of their hunger and having to survive in an area covered by the toxic white dust of bombs.

       Raed Al Athamnen sums up his story in a brief film.

 

Perth Theatre Company’s Artistic Director, Melissa Cantwell, has proven herself many times over the years, giving Perth a selection of top rate plays. However, she reaches a new zenith with this magnificently conceived production. PTC’s writer-in-residence Ian Sinclair being Melissa’s most capable assistant director,

Much-admired, audio-visual designer, Mia Holton has produced an hour of video that, in its precision and beguiling content, surpasses any AV that I have ever seen in the past. Total genius. The visual artist, Fleur Elise Noble, used stop motion animation of her clever puppets.

Along with the outstanding soundscape from Joe Lui that ranged from exploding hand grenades, full warzone effects, to the beautiful melodies of a honkey-tonk piano, eastern instruments, and of course the flutter of symbolic doves. The sweet tones of Mei Saraswati, in her theatre debut, were a wonderful poignant contrast to the distressing clamours of war. The audience did not simply watch the lives of these poor unfortunates, they were there, immersed in the dust and rubble, suffering it with them.

Stage Manager, Hugo Aguilar Lopez, has created and controls the many special effects, then has to rebuild the set. Stunning work.

This is not a heartless, ill-informed lecture on refugees. At the end of this masterpiece, the audience sat stunned, struggling to find enough energy to produce a VERY well earned applause. This was after only 60 minutes, these poor people have had years of unrelenting suffering, and yet the one thing that shone through at every stage of this play was their constant optimism and that light at the end of the tunnel.

Prepare to be stunned. Tremendous.