Review by Nola Bartolo
What really happens when we die? How do we as sons and daughters deal with the death of a parent? Are we ever freed from the guilt associated with death? These are just some of the questions rolling around in my head after watching Tideline last night. Presented by Theatre Excentrique Tideline had its Australian debut at Chippen St Theatre.
Tideline is an epic play written by the award-winning Lebanese/Canadian playwright Wajdi Mouawad. The script is incredible and so very cleverly written. After the unexpected death of a father he hardly knew, Wilfrid is coerced to bury the body in his father’s homeland. He is helped in his quest by a movie director and one of King Arthur’s knights, both farcical versions of Wilfrid’s own psyche. Along the way, he acquires friends all of whom dream of a better life and when confronted by a war- torn country, Wilfrid finds an additional corpse is one too many. Only if he makes it to the Tideline, will he be able to bury his father.
Adeeb Razzouk who plays Wilfrid was outstanding. He was very believable and owned the stage. He opened the play with a monologue directed to a Judge and I could absolutely feel his horror as he tells the story of receiving a phone call right at the time that he reaches an orgasm, informing him that his father is dead. And so, the saga begins. Adeeb did so well at portraying the many faces of grief. He was comedic and heartfelt and was able to display many layers to Wilfrid’s character. He was hands down the standout of the night.
Anna Jahjah did a great job in directing Tideline and being able to take such a clever script and translate it well on the stage without coming across as pretentious. This play is intelligent, and its prose reflects this. The play’s themes deal with heavy topics such as death and grief. Hopes and dreams. Love and war. So many opposites. How many of us carry the corpses of our past? Feeling trapped and unable to let go. I know I can, so this was very confronting for me. But in a good way.
I especially liked the stage setting and the use of various mediums to assist in the story telling process. A projector that was used effectively in the scenes where Wilfrid’s mind was a film set and his ego self the director with the ensemble playing various thoughts and voices in his head.
The ensemble all worked well together in this thought provoking and at times poetic piece. The acting across the board was great and all were able to hold their own internal struggle with their own story.
The only question I have, and it may be a big one is what was behind the decision to not cast actors with an Arabic background? I had to put this question aside whilst watching as it felt like it could have been a culturally insensitive decision to not have actors from the Middle East tell this story. I don’t want to take anything away from the cast as they really did do a great job. However, I would love to see this play again but this time with more of a Middle Eastern cast.