Yasser (4 stars)

This article is from 2008


An original take on the Middle East conflict

The concept of national identity becomes ever more fragile in the absence of a nation state. A people bereft of the glue that binds modern communities together – whether real or imagined – risk having their identity defined by others, moulded by ‘enemies’ to become disenfranchised from their own history.

The Palestinian experience is obviously one that many modern works of theatre have attempted to do justice to. Too often, however, grand historical narratives loom over the everyday, with the banalities and frustrations of a generation being cast as mere footnotes to the current conflict in the Middle East. In contrast, Yasser, which focuses on a young Palestinian actor preparing to play Shylock, succeeds in illuminating the intricate crevices of the conflict where other works fail.

As the play states, it is almost the case that to be born Palestinian is a political act in itself. The piece depicts the mutual incomprehension of Yasser and his British girlfriend at his mother’s shame on learning he is to play a Jew, opting to concentrate on a small-scale human conflict where many would opt for the polemic.

All of this is cemented by William el-Gardi. He is a first-rate actor, as evidenced by his appearance in last year’s The Container, a moving site specific piece about human trafficking. His performance here provides further evidence of his enviable talent.

Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 25 Aug (not 11), 6.15pm, £12 (£11).


  • 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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