X-Space, Adelaide Centre for the Arts (ACArts) [TAFE SA], Light Square
Reviewed Sunday March 7th 2010 (See Fringe guide for dates, times, etc.)
Presented by Daniel Clarke.
Bookings: Fringetix & Venuetix outlets
British actor, Alan Rickman, and Katherine Viner have taken the words for this piece directly from the writings of American activist, Rachel Aliene Corrie (April 10, 1979 – March 16, 2003), and edited them into a monologue that takes us from her early years to her premature death in the Gaza Strip, where she died shortly after being run down by an armoured Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) bulldozer whilst acting as a human shield and protesting against the destruction of Palestinian homes. She was there at Rafah as a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) during the Second Intifada.
When the play opens we find her lying down contemplating her very messy room. Gradually she packs her belongings and adds the boxes to stacks already around her that form a broken wall. From here she travels to Rafah and we hear of her time there, the events that occurred leading up to the fatal day and her reflections on the situation, expressed in her diary and in e-mails to her parents.
In light of the already known ending, there is much in this play that would perhaps have been merely interesting documentary, but that becomes highly poignant in retrospect. During the work we come to know a lot about Corrie, her life, her ambitions, her early interest in the welfare of others and her own personality. It is Hannah Norris who lifts Corrie’s words off of the page and fills them with emotion and carefully wrought expression in a captivating and thoroughly convincing performance, under the sensitive and insightful direction of Daniel Clarke. Norris is wonderful as Corrie, investing the role with a great sense of youthful enthusiasm and a certain degree of naivety as to the possible consequences of her actions. This is a sterling performance.
There are two sides to every story and, although Corrie claimed that she and the other ISM members were attempting to protect the homes of innocent Palestinians, the IDF claimed that they were clearing the area of terrorists, or people who were harbouring terrorists. The IDF had declared the area a security zone that contained a network of tunnels used for smuggling weapons and as hiding places for guerrilla forces, while the ISM claimed that they were only being used to bring in food, water and other essential supplies and that this was the only way to get them past the Israeli blockade that was in force at that time.
An ISM witness said that Corrie had been clearly visible, was wearing a brightly coloured florescent vest and that her death was deliberate, but the IDF claimed that it was an accident and that the driver of the bulldozer was not able to see her due to the limited visibility caused by the armour that had been added to the machine. The IDF also claimed that the bulldozer was not even attempting to demolish any buildings at the time but merely carrying out routine levelling of open areas. The arguments continue and there still is a pending lawsuit, filed against both the IDF and the Israeli Defence Ministry, with the hearing about to open in Haifa this week, on Wednesday March 10th.
The full truth of her death may never be known but her extensively self-documented life, superbly presented in this powerful performance, gives us a fascinating insight to this remarkable young woman with a deep social conscience.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Glam Adelaide Arts Editor.