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24:7 Reviews: Paçvan, Mal

Joan Davies dives into the nation’s best theatre festival for new writers with Hekate Papadaki

Published on July 24th 2012.

24:7 Reviews: Paçvan, Mal

IN Paçvan, Mal or The Interpreter, Home by Hekate Papadaki two characters are searching for home. 

I take a glance at the audience. Silent. Still. Expectantly leaning forward, absorbed in the story. 

Hevi has been through hell under Saddam’s Iraqi regime before escaping to refugee status in Britain.  She’s been back in hell for twenty years, in a British mental health institution, isolated by language. 

Nalin, student and part-time interpreter, embraces British student life and has distanced herself from her Kurdish roots. 

The characters meet and help one another on their journey.  In searching for clues to unlock Hevi’s almost wordless existence Nalin has to reconnect, with Kurdish memories.  The doctor wants her to concentrate on the terrors that drove Hevi to the UK; sensibly Nalin unearths lullabies, ornamental children’s socks, and food.   

The story unfolds gently, but the material is raw, supported by two great performances, Hilly Barber, disturbed and virtually wordless as Hevi, and the natural grace of Jade Greyul as Nalin.  Within the constraints of one hour the writer wisely concentrates on Hevi’s powerful story and Nalin’s story is less well developed.  A longer piece could develop this further. 

A short scene in a Kurdish Community Centre is played lightly and provides a welcome contrast to the stark world of the mental hospital.  Director Lucy Allan handles the contrast well. 

Hekate, originally from Greece, worked in mental health providing interpreters for patients, and The Interpreter, Home is her first play.  A post-performance Q and A would have been welcome.  I want to ask how realistic this story is; in providing shelter from terror do we not make a commitment to help people?  Does it happen that someone is for years denied a suitable interpreter so carelessly, so callously?  

But those are post-performance questions.  

Meanwhile I take a glance at the audience. Silent. Still. Expectantly leaning forward, absorbed in the story. 

This is a powerful production, worthy of 24:7 and worthy of a wider audience.  

The 24:7 Theatre Festival runs from 20 - 27 July. More than 70 performances will take place over eight Festival days in New Century House – head office of The Co-operative – and Three Minute Theatre, in Affleck’s Palace.  Find more information, show times and how to book tickets (£8 / £6) at: www.247theatrefestival.co.uk



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