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Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Theatre – I am Yusef and This Is My Brother – Young Vic

Star rating – 6/10

Amir Nizar Zuabi’s play reminds us of a chapter of history that still arouses very strong emotions amongst those directly affected by it, as evidenced by the passionate reaction to it by some of this packed audience. That chapter was the war of 1948 that resulted in the creation of the new state of Israel, and the uprooting of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and lands. And I am very sympathetic to that cause.

This play tries to straddle three interconnected strands – the historical context of the war; the moving relationship between two brothers – one of whom has some form of learning disability; and a doomed love affair. All with tremendous potential in their own right to produce a great play. The problem for me here was that none of the strands were clear enough or strong enough in the telling. The story was a bit confused and difficult to follow. That was partly due to practical staging issues, such as not been able to read the surtitles for part of the play when they were blurred by being projected onto the folds of a piece of cloth.

But nevertheless I absolutely applaud the attempt, and I did enjoy the evening. But just felt a little confused at the end of the play. And there was such a lot of water involved that I did feel for the actors in the cold, air conditioned to within an inch of its life theatre. But maybe that’s just me….

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