Written and directed by Amir Nizar
Zuabi. Producer Alexandra Aron, Remote Theater Project.Set
and Projection Design Tal Yarden Lighting Design Muaz Jubeh
Sound Design Katie Down Associate Producer Bonnie Sue Stein, GOH Productions Grey Rock was commissioned and produced by Remote Theater Project in association with GOH Productions. Generously supported by Charlie (Khalil) Shahin AO. Space Theatre Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide Festival. March 9-12 2023
Performed by: Luca Kamleh Chapman as Fadel. Khalifa Natour as Yusuf. Mota z Malhees as Sheik.Shehada Alaa as Jawad and Fidaa Zaidan as Lila
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
Remote Theatre Project’s production of Grey Rock, written and directed by Palestinian writer and director Amir Nazir Zuabi is full of surprises. Performed in English, it weaves a tender love story with one man’s dream to build a rocket to the moon. At first it appears to be a simple story about a dreamer, his concerned daughter Lila (Fidaa Zaidan) and her dominating fiancée Jawad (Shehada Alaa), a young villager, Fadel (Luca Kamleh Chapman) who becomes involved in Yusuf’s plan to build a rocket to the moon and is secretly in love with the daughter and the local Imam Sheik ( Motaz Malhees) who helps to fund the man’s dream. On the surface it may appear to be a simple situation comedy. But Zuabi’s writing reveals a far more meaningful comment on the Palestinian cause in the occupied West Bank. Grey Rock is a plea for humanity’s inalienable right to freedom and truth and one man’s intent to bring the cause to the awareness of the world. The play is enticingly hilarious in its apparent absurdity and Yusuf’s determination to achieve his unlikely goal. Zuabi’s dialogue is direct and played with the sincerity of real interaction between the characters. IIt is the language of the village, unambiguous and purposeful.
Grey Rock is a story of the power of the human heart. It is a story of self sacrifice, of the power of love and a salute to the courage of the human spirit. It is also a subtle but persuasive condemnation of the abuse of power and the injustice meted out to innocent people. At one moment you are laughing at the defiance of Yusuf and his stubborn resolve. At another at the gawkish innocence of Yusuf’s young assistant and his inability to express his love for Lila. At another you are crying at the impact and harsh reality of dispossession of one’s land and identity. It is this unexpected reaction to Zuabi’s heartwarming play from Palestine that surprises, amuses and moves one to laughter and tears.
It is only when one leaves the theatre that one may reflect on the real suffering and injustice that continues to plague Palestinian and Israeli conflict in the West Bank. Grey Rock is about real people living real lives and attempting to create a better world for themselves and their community. It is neither didactic nor judgemental. It invites the response of heart and mind and as such is a testament to the role of theatre to bring about change.
Photos bt Carlos Cardona