“I just – I can’t believe this is England”
Hannah Khalil’s intelligent exploration of the Israeli-Palestine conflict Scenes from 68* Years was one of my top-ranked plays of last year and so I was delighted to be able to see her new play The Scar Test, albeit in the oppressive, claustrophobic heat of the Soho Upstairs at the height of summer. And with that knowledge of at least some of Khalil’s theatrical style, it was a pleasure to be able to sink into her idiosyncratic storytelling and be so thoroughly challenged by its subject matter.
Here, Khalil has turned her focus to the experience of female detainees at the notorious Yarl’s Wood detention centre and the many, many indignities suffered by those trying to work their way through the knots and prejudices of our immigration system. And as with that previous play, multiple verbatim strands are splintered into non-linear episodes, some coalescing into something approaching an overall arc, some disappearing into the ether, forgotten victims neglected by us all. Continue reading “Review: The Scar Test, Soho Theatre”
“We live in a climate of fear – they’ve made that”
The asterisk in the title is important. It denotes the number of years since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and so if the play were to be put on again next year, it would be entitled Scenes from 69* Years. It all adds to the sense of living history that permeates Hannah Khalil’s Scenes from 68* Years, a series of snapshots from life in Palestine throughout that time in all its complexity as to build one nation, another must be broken.
It’s a deeply emotive subject but one which is approached with clear-eyed balance by Khalil. Her stories, collated from the experiences of friends and family, are presented as non-linear vignettes – a picnic interrupted by soldiers in 1992, a charity worker making an aid run in 2010, a boy playing a prank on his grandfather in 1978 and so on – but the perspectives they offer come from Palestinians and Israelis alike, giving details of how day-to-day life co-exists with headline-grabbing drama. Continue reading “Review: Scenes from 68* Years, Arcola”