Production Photos by: Mark Senior
Tickets and more information: https://semites.one/
Semites was conceived by actor Ben Nathan after an experience he had working on a play which resulted in an altercation with his co-star at the time. This prompted him to head to Israel and Palestine and interview people from a variety of backgrounds on what it means to them to be a Semite.
The responses gathered are performed in this two hander by Ben Nathan and Lara Sawalh who alternated between characters really well. The play is very self aware in that it knows what it is. There was one interlude before the play started that had Lara holding up a card warning the audience that her northern English accent wasn’t good but she was going to try anyway, which I liked. Although, I found her accent to be believable anyway! At other points in the play they found they couldn’t find a way to dramatize some of the responses from the people interviewed so they just read them aloud (and they even got the audience members involved too). And sometimes they just played the audio recordings with a single spotlight on a pair of shoes belonging to an audience member. I should clarify they did request for audience members to leave their shoes on the stage, they didn’t just take them!
Directed by Daniel Goldman who is particularly skilled at directing theatre that is quite out there, especially after seeing his production of Thebes Land at the Arcola Theatre last year, he has done a fantastic job with this production. Although the space is quite bare and feels minimalist, the subtleties are there and pack a hugely emotional punch.
Overall, I pleasantly enjoyed it and it is always important to amplify the voices of those who may not be heard elsewhere, which this production definitely does.
Until next time,