Held at The Station in Beirut’s industrial sector, the play holds true to it’s name.
You walk in into a casi-dark hall with 3 descending rows set on the right and left parts of the room where the audience takes its seat. A casual and very simple decor is laid out, one chair on the left and two couches and a coffee table on the right. At the back of the stage, 2 big screens are installed to project scenes from the black and white film “The Battle of Algiers” from 1966. The sound of waves crashing into the shore, the magic of white noise haunts the room, mesmerizes you and transports you into a certain darkness, melancholy.
The play starts with Albert Camus’ most famous one liner: “Aujourd’hui, maman est morte” , from The Stranger novel for which the writer is so known for. The actors start moving in what I believed to be a random pattern, but I’m sure had a purpose. And then, for the first 12 min, I get lost in the abstract that Camus tried so much to disconnect from. As the play progressed, we were able to make more sense of the characters, the space and the story line.
Dylan Avant uses the story line from The Stranger as the core of the play, around which all other events occur. He links the Battle of Algiers with Meursault’s time in Algeria, he then develops Samia Lakhdari’s trial, while reminding us throughout the play of what is about to happen eventually in Beirut with the killing of the Palestinians in the infamous bus incident, in 1975.
I had to keep my eyes and ears in overdrive so I wouldn’t miss an important piece of information that would make it easier to follow the story, the character changes and the flashbacks. The actors delivered an impeccable performance, transporting us from one scene to another so lightly. I bet the change in dialect and the different languages in the script were a big challenge, which they overcame so well. The lighting, sound and projections only added to the magic of the make believe space.
Still showing till December 2nd, check the details of the event on this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/353325145214073/