This article is from 2008


Provocative character study with political overtones

‘This is a play which is political, without becoming partisan political,’ says director Teunkie van der Sluijs. ‘It was written just before 9/11, so it doesn’t have that lamenting post-9/11 outlook that now occurs in all forms of writing which deal with the Middle East. It retains a sense of playfulness, of world-inventing.’

Dutch-Moroccan writer Abdelkader Benali’s one-man tale of a Palestinian actor named Yasser Mansour, waiting in the wings to step out on stage and play Shylock, the ultimate controversial Jewish character, runs the risk of being weighed down with heavy allegory. Yet, actor William el-Gardi contends that it’s more of a character study. ‘Yasser’s just been robbed of his briefcase,’ he says, ‘and he’s also just split up with his girlfriend. So, from these limited surroundings that he’s in mentally and physically, we get an overwhelming sense of paranoia from this character – paranoia about the West, about his girlfriend, about playing the part.’

Van der Sluijs is precise about his intentions with the play, which carries some physically demanding sequences for el-Gardi. ‘Theatre is a forum art form; it’s about people looking at other people who are behaving just as people do. That’s what’s, ultimately, inherently political about it.’

Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, 2–25 Aug (not 11), 6.15pm, £11–£12 (£10–£11). Previews 31 Jul & 1 Aug, £8.


  • 4 stars

Small-scale but nonetheless effective look at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, from the point of view of a Palestinian actor preparing to play Shylock. Cemented by an excellent performance by William el-Gardi. 'Part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe'

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