A Play, A Pie and A Pint - Could You Please Look Into the Camera

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
National Theatre of Scotland in association with Òran Mór, presented by the Traverse
Mohammed Al Attar (writer), Catrin Stevens (director)Andrew Cowan, Gary Wilson, Ross Kirkland, Niall McMenimen (technicians), Philip Pinsky (sound), Kim Beveridge (film artist), Andy Dempsey (stage manager), Patrick McGurn (designer), Kirsten Hogg (assistant designer), David MacLennan (producer), Sarah MacFarlane (assistant producer),Susannah Armitage (associate producer)
Umar Ahmed (Karim), Alia Alzougbi (Noura), Lucy Hollis (Farah), Gerry McLaughlin (Zeid)
Running time

When the new season of A Play, A Pie and A Pint begins, it’s almost like the arrival of the first cuckoo and this season’s overall theme, One Day in Spring, compounds the feeling although we are not talking bulbs and bunnies.

The set is the living room of Noura (Alia Alzougbi), a young photographer who is recording on her confessional camera the experiences of detainees from recent demonstrations during the Syrian revolution. One by one, the scarred Karim (Umar Ahmed), the instinctive Farah (Lucy Hollis) and the clear sighted Zeid (Gerry McLaughlin) tell their stories of torture, humiliation, the cruelty of kindness and even the humour and compassion that are all part of the complexity of human nature.

While her camera can observe with a cold eye, Noura finds herself reeling with the succession of disturbing images, and questions her motives as well as her safety, taking refuge in her supply of quality chocolate. Alia Alzougbi was a quiet strength on stage as she played the part of the unobtrusive observer who finds herself as much part of the conflict as her witnesses.

This is a tightly performed and focussed piece that is full of immediacy from young Damascene writer Mohammed Al Attar who has created a mix of the true and the fictional to strong effect.

Lucy Hollis gives an amazing professional acting debut as Farah, though her body language seemed a bit too bouncy for a recently released detainee. That aside, she gave an assured and relaxed performance.

Gerry McLaughlin displayed the generous and detached rationale of his character, Zeid, with confidence and assuredness. Umar Ahmed played Karim, the most physically hurt of the three, with conviction.  His telling of his bemusement at his release was completely believable.

The synchronised images on screen are credit to Kim Beveridge.

There has been a shift in proceedings for this first play. The performance took place in the Traverse Theatre Café Bar as opposed to one of the theatre spaces.  The experience worked very well for this particular play as this closeness potentially stood as a metaphor for the smallness of today’s world as did the Scottish voices of the four actors.

This season’s series of plays are inspired by the Arab spring and have been written by artists living through the current political turbulence in Lebanon, Morocco and Syria.  The shows have been curated by David Greig who directs the penultimate show in this series that gives the title to this season’s plays.

Show times

24 Apr 2012 - 28 Apr 2012, Tues - Fri 1pm, Sat 12.30pm

Tickets £12 (includes a play, a pie and a pint of beer/ 125ml glass of wine/ regular glass of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Lemonade or Orange Juice/ Tea/ Filter Coffee)

The remaining plays in the Season are:

Dear Glasgow 1-5 May

Damascus Aleppo (Damascus) 15-19 May

Sleeping Beauty Insomnia 22 -26 May

One Day in Spring 29 May – 2 June

Hassan and Hadda Lekliches! (Rabat) 5-9 June