Last night I fell in love with a play. It took my completely off-guard, I wasn’t looking for love, it just happened. There is a story and it is beguilingly simple. In his grief a widower in Palestine decides to build a rocket in his shed to go to the moon, he is aided by a delivery boy enmoured of his daughter, both his daughter and his nephew point out his plan is crazy but are won around. This daughter’s fiancé is never won around and they split up; that’s it but I love everything about it.
The script is smart and witty and poetic, it weaves together physics with love with the politics of Palestine and reflections on the Apollo programme. This mission to the moon will bring Palestine respect around the world and prove that its people are capable of great things. Of course the whole construction process is clandestine with the threat of security forces swooping to hault the project at any moment.
The cast of characters are highly sypathetic and engaging (even the fiancé), fable like in their service to the narrative and yet also humane. In tune with the rest of the production the staging is elegant in its economy and simplicity. The status of the rocket is always ambigously help so we neither believe nor discount its existence nor its capacity to fly until the final soliloquy.
Layered on top of all these pleasures is the fact that this production is performed in English by non-native English speakers with occasional splashes of Arabic. They do an amazing job and yet of course their inflections and emphasis are unusual, I loved this as much as anything about the play and production. The result is a form of Brechtian effect where you a more conscious of the script and the acting than you would otherwise be. You aren’t complacent in your listening, you aren’t drawn in so much and yet the caracters still live, somehow it fits perfectly with the play’s quality as a parable.
I should probably stop now. Grey Rock seems to be touring a lot in the US at the moment. I hope it will come to the UK and if it does, please go to see it, I’m sure you will fall in love too.