Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Talking to Terrorists"

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note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Larry Stark

"Talking to Terrorists"

by Robin Soans
Directed by Carmel O'Reilly

Scenic Design by J Michael Gruggs.
Lighting Design by John Malinowski
Costumes by Rachel Padula Shufelt
Sound Design by Nathan Leigh
Stage Manager Amy Lee

Geralyn Horton
A Former British Secretary of State; a Dublin Waitress; a Foreign Office Committee Member, A Conservative Landowner, a Wife
Eve Kagan
An ex-member Nat. Resistance Army Uganda, Bethlehem Schoolgirl,a Dancer from Uzbektistan, a Home Health Aide
Gabriel Kuttner
A Luton Muslim, an ex-Ulster Volunteer Force member North Ireland, a former British Ambassador
Lau Lapides
A House Cleaner, A Relief Worker, Rima a Lebanese Journalist
Mario Mariani
Husband of Secretary of State, A Luton Muslim, ex Kurdish Workers' Party member, British Army Colonel
Dale Place
A psychologist, member of a Foreign Office Committee, A Former British Secretary of State
Dafydd Rees
A Luton Muslim, ex-member of Irish Republican Army, Archbishop's Envoy, and Irish Bodyguard
Mason Sand
A Luton Muslim, ex-head Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade Bethlehem, Member of a Foreign Office Committee

Despite his title, Robin Soans's play is really about LISTENING to terrorists, and to people who have listened to terrorists or seen at first-hand their lives and their work. The Victims of terrorists are conspicuously absent --- but their stories, their outrage, their logic can be heard and seen on any "balanced" news broadcast on t-v or radio. The heinous acts of terrorists tend, quite rightly, to obscure their points-of-view and to mute their voices. But as the introduction to this docu-drama eloquently states, "you're never going to be able to change their minds until you first listen to what they have to say."

Rather than rhetoric and argument --- though that's there --- Soans more often quotes people explaining their everyday lives and why they feel those lives repressed by outside forces. And I must admit to fighting tears at least three times during the performance. Early in the play I heard a Muslim explaining that " ... that was in '93, and we all felt we might have a chance --- but it was an Israili shot Rabin ... " and the lava spilled out of my clenched eyelids. I too thought we had a chance.

The reason this play came into being is contained in a monologue in which the youngest man to become a British Ambassador outlines his certain knowledge that British and American actions in Uzbekistan was based on CIA information (mostly lies) obtained through torture --- the "informants" admitting they'd said Anything to stop the pain. His ambassadorial complaints resulted only in his dismissal and in bouts of near-insanity, while (in other scenes) the government committees who could correct the record swept all objection under the rug.

Soans is an equal-opportunity quoter, allowing people from Kurdistan, Uzbekistan, Palestine, North Ireland, Uganda and England say their say. No, there is no rebuttal here from any Israelis --- but no one would think of Israelis as "Terrorists", now would they?

There are flashes of dialogue here, but mostly the dialogue is one person reaching out to talk with the audience. That audience may be like me --- I listen first every noon to Amy Goodman's DEMOCRACY NOW program over WZBCfm before switching to WBUR. And the only experience I've had with television news was during my five-day stay at Beth ISrael after knee surgery, where the only shows I watched to the very end were on Channels 2 or 44.
And that's not merely because I hate commercials.....

( a k a larry stark )

"Talking to Terrorists" (17 March - 8 April)
Boston Center for The Arts, 539 Tremont Street, BOSTON MA
1 (617)933-8600

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