- Adeline Amar
- 22 August 2018
A flat attempt at tackling divides and otherness through the history of Cyprus
Forbidden Stories is a multimedia theatre performance that explores exile, displacement and borders via the partitioned island of Cyprus. Four performers act out real-life stories from Greek and Turkish Cypriots, spanning several decades, on a background of non-stop live projections.
The stories cover both sides of the border as well as various age groups, including children remembering how they tried to catch secret walkie-talkie transmissions over the radio, to demonstrate the impact of the divide over generations of residents. These are told over projections onto a boat-shaped screen in the background, with random images that don't seem related to the stories being told and only adds confusion.
The stories themselves tell of tragic and horrifying events but are unfortunately delivered without clear context, and through such an avalanche of historical details that it is impossible to engage with them. The actors' delivery itself is extremely earnest but rarely convincing, preventing any real emotional impact. As a result, the general sentiment that the communities have more in common than that which divide them is noble, but comes across as incredibly naive.
Forbidden Stories is overall an ambitious project, tackling themes that are especially relevant right now. It is therefore a real shame the final product remains flat and unfocused, and never really gives this topic the gravitas it deserves.
French Institute, until 25 Aug, 9pm, £14 (£12).