City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Sky is Safe, Summerhall, Review

By Irene Brown - Posted on 10 August 2017

The Sky Is Safe production photo
Show details
Dogstar Theatre
Running time: 
Matthew Zajac (writer), Ben Harrison (director), Tim Reid (video design) Pippa Murphy (composer, musical director and sound designer), Dawn Hartley (choreographer) John Wilkie (lighting design), Ali Maclaurin (costume design) Nihad Al Turk (set design )
Matthew Zajac and Dana Hajaj

Who wouldn’t want to live under a safe sky where birds, not bombers, fly?

The stories of seven women who want just that are brought to stage by Matthew Zajac, himself the son of an immigrant, as he so brilliantly told in his memorable play The Tailor of Inverness. The seven women represented are from different parts of the Middle East are smoothly portrayed by Dana Hajaj against a background visual of her words and a Babel of sounds.

Part of their accounts are acted out in small scenes where we witness a harrowing bus journey; a description of a husband’s torture; extreme bullying by soldiers, but for the most part these takes the form of a direct narration.

Running alongside this is the story of Gordon, a Scot who is visiting Istanbul but turns out to know Turkey remarkably well. This part has a video running in parallel augmenting Zajac’s words and actions. Gordon meets the over friendly Murat, also played by Hajaj, who leads him to a meeting of former Syrian law student turned prostitute with whom he forms a relationship during his stay.

About half way through the piece, the personal meets the political head on when this so-called family man reveals potent information about himself to the woman he’s been spending time with for sex. And here lies the potential for a really interesting drama, rather than what feels like a lecture with visuals and music for much of the time, though that music from Pippa Murphy is highly atmospheric.

At the start, one woman claims that ‘brother fighting brother’ is a prophesy and a sign that time is coming to an end. What that really feels like can only be guessed at by those of us not experiencing the horrors of relentless war directly though we may be numbed by equally relentless news stories.

The highlighting of the harrowing lives of these women immigrants fleeing conflict is important, worthy and sincerely told if somewhat didactic, with statistics delivered like machine gun fire. The Sky is Safe is flawlessly performed by the two actors, each taking on various roles and the revelation of positive meanings of all the women’s Arabic names lets this harrowing play end with some hope.

9 August - Sunday 27 August (not Aug 14,21) at 19.45 age recommend 12+