Jihan's Smile (3 stars)

This article is from 2017

Jihan's Smile

Vivid, visually brilliant fairytale about learning to find happiness, from Palestinian theatre troupe Al-Harah

Jihan has lost her smile and can't get it back, no matter how hard her father tries to make everything better again. With the aid of a friendly bird, he calls the sun down for her, and a bright, dancing dragon into her room, yet nothing will brighten the girl's life. She lies cocooned in bed, the world around her as grey and dark as the dress she wears, until a new visitor arrives with the pearl of wisdom which will bring colour back to the world.

Presented here as part of the Fringe's Arab Arts Focus, this six-part ensemble piece – based on Karim Alrawi's story The Girl Who Lost Her Smile – has a desperately poignant meaning for adult viewers; produced by Palestinian theatre company Al-Harah, we can only imagine the children it was originally created for having a far greater concept of day-to-day sadness than most in the West.

Yet the production itself is warm and jolly, with Fairouz Nustas and Issam Rishmawi's set and costume designs offering a dazzlingly inventive visual tableau. The combination of Arabic and English (smiling apologies are made at the end for the cast's incomplete understanding of the latter) may slow the narrative somewhat, but they don't suppress the confident enthusiasm at play.

Summerhall, until 13 Aug, 10.15am, £12 (£10; £20 family).

Jihan's Smile

  • 3 stars

Al-Harah Jihan is an ordinary child who woke up one day to discover that she had lost her smile. The sun set, the moon disappeared, everything lost its colour, cold spread throughout the town and the people got sick. Jihan searched everywhere but couldn’t find her smile. The people of the town went on a journey to search…