Edinburgh review

Just some of our Edinburgh reviews:

  A moving experience 23 Aug 2009
reviewer: Trevor, Newcastle
A terrific piece of theatre with real emotional depth and three first-class performances. Tear-jerking doesn’t even cover it just make sure you’ve got some tissues handy.
  Stunning 12 Aug 2009
reviewer: OpposeYourKarabinas, Edinburgh
‘The Other Side’ is a million miles from your usual lighthearted fringe froth and I feel I simply can not articulate effectively just how good it is, how moved my friend and I were and how grateful I feel to have stumbled upon it. Sat in the front row, there were times I actually had to look away from the actors faces, such was the ferocity of emotion and sincerity of their acting. I believed in every character. The actors are extremely resourceful and imaginative in using a sparse set and props to depict so many scenes, lighting and sound also amplify the mood and made me feel quite overwhelmed with emotion. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to be affected by this. Please make the time to see this show, its incredible.
  6 stars if it were possible! 11 Aug 2009
reviewer: Ellie McHale, London, England
I was wary of seeing this show because of the subject matter and thinking it might be too ‘heavy’. But my friend and I really wanted to see what all the fuss was about having read so many brilliant reviews. I’m not normally one to write reviews, but I wanted to echo those below. I cannot praise the cast and creative team enough for delivering such a moving and captivating production. The acting was incredible, the shift between scenes flawless and innovative and the whole piece was thought-provoking and emotionally draining. Thank you for a brilliant experience.
  What a wuss. 11 Aug 2009
reviewer: Lewis Jones, Wales
I am a 6’4″ 230lb rugby player and I cried like a little baby. Amazing show. If you play rugby don’t go with your mates.
  Superb Production 11 Aug 2009
reviewer: Jemma Ann, Jersey, Channel Islands
First Class acting, beautifully, sparsely delivered, very intense and emotional. Great staging, minimalist, no clutter. I want to watch it again!

Edinburgh Fringe 2009
The Other Side
Venue: Gilded Balloon Teviot

Low Down
The Other Side is inspired by the Radio 4 program of the same name about the growing movement that is linking the people of Palestine and Israel through telephone conversations and meetup groups, particularly those who have lost loved ones through violence. The actors play multiple roles and build their characters by going back and forth in time. It is a very well executed production and, uniquely, gives us basic humanism and hope from a part of the world that is in desperate need of it.
The actors use metal frames and white sheets to move between scenes as we witness the personal lives of people who have lost or are about to lose someone. Rami Awaad is an Israeli, he has lost his daughter to a suicide bomb, and he tells us his story in a confessional way as an opening to the play. This sets the fateful tone that we have come to expect from this particular conflict zone, yet the rest of the play is about finding the courage to make contact with the ‘other’ in order to heal.
The metal frames and white drapes are used in a number of ways to portray stairs, corridor, window, room, tank and many others. The actors move with grace and discipline and imagined space is expertly created in classic theatrical style. Simon Nader plays Rami as well as three others, and performs his roles with depth and sensitivity, particularly his portrayal of eighteen year old David whom we see as he argues with his mother Natalia, and deciding to serve his country: What follows is a truly chilling moment.
The writing stresses ‘Very simple talk, nothing political’, and it sticks to this. It is more about the psychological conflict between this endless war that scars those on both sides, and the personal impact on the ordinary people who have had their lives so damaged yet have no say in it: ‘One million calls between people on both sides, just imagine if the leaders would talk to each other, for one minute’: Communication, after all, is all it takes.
The narrative arc is strong, and it comes together well at the end as Rami repeats his opening speech, this time at a ‘Parent Circle’ group. The physicality of the actors and the way they use the set is excellent. This is a timely production and importantly gives us, as a Western audience, positive news.
Reviewed by PL/FLM 17/08/09#

Three Weeks
In praise of the human voice and the power of conversation, this is a novel perspective on the Middle East conflict. Three actors expertly inhabit characters from both sides of the Israel-Palestine border where danger looms large and death comes with bad news. Using four hard metal frames as representations of tanks and doors, as constantly rotated as the actors’ roles, one grieves with sobbing yet forgiving mothers, pathos preferred to politics. The universal humanism emerges through good-natured banter, which is sheared through with tragedy, making the stories all too familiar as men fight out of duty rather than free choice. Provocative, intriguing and sensitively done, the scenario seems to recall the old British Telecom adverts: “it’s good to talk”.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 5 – 31 Aug (not 18, 25),rating: 4/5
published: Aug-2009
[Jonathan Brick]

The List

Tackling some of the hefty political issues that exist between Israel and Palestine is no easy task when we consider the immense and often brutal circumstances of the conflict between the two nations. However, this is done very cleverly by The Other Side, which also offers some rational solutions to ending the conflict which do not involve military measures. In the play, we are granted intimate access to the families whose lives are traumatic on a daily basis, whose children have died in bomb blasts and the families who have to face the consequences of their son taking people’s lives in terrorist attacks. The families struggle to make sense of why the countries they live in are at war with each other, and, through a chance phone call, the sides are brought together, finding solace through talking over the issues they are faced with, and coming to realise that their realities are not that different from each other.

The stage production is handled well, with props slickly moved to alter purpose and allowing the actors to move seamlessly between their many characters. The structure of the play is such that it jumps back and forth in time, allowing the audience to see families before and after their lives have been rocked by political violence and murder. The heartfelt soundtrack which accompanies many scenes adds to the intensity of the play, bringing with it a great sense of authentic middle Eastern atmosphere, and making the issues at hand all the more real for the audience.
Gilded Balloon Teviot. 2.45pm, until 31 Aug
Date: 27 August 2009
Written by: Mark Petrie

All The Festivals
In this ensemble performance, the actors switch easily between characters, in a montage of scenes that move seamlessly into one another with an ingeniously effective set, used to maximum effect.
Based on true events, The Other Side stitches together the lives of real people suffering in the conflict of the Middle East’s Gaza strip. Despite disputing political agenda’s we see how the two worlds of the civilians are so similar, and how much each patriotic act can have such catastrophic effects on the other side.
The juxtaposition of scenes from the opposing sides of the conflict, evokes a mix of emotions that cut at the heart strings and remind us how lucky we are in our ignorance. The performances are all strong, but Simon Nader’s portrayal of the settler Rami Awaad, and Yousef were flawless. This performance will move you to the edge of your seat, to feelings of guilt, and to tears.
In the end, we see the two sides coming together in a web of hope that will one day weave its way across our world. Hello Peace.
Reviewed by: Katie Gadsby
August 12, 2009

The Stage

Israel’s Hello Peace initiative was set up by an organisation of parents, many of whom had suffered the loss of a child, as a route to better communication between Israelis and Palestinians. Talking is important. The very act of picking up the phone and speaking to someone, learning about them, listening to them, is vital.
The scheme began with a wrong number: a woman misdialled and ended up sharing her story with the man on the other side of the line. Inspired by the Radio 4 programme Calls Across the Wall, this moving and imaginative devised piece by Scene unites the stories of three families whose lives have all been damaged in some way – a daughter killed by a suicide bomber, a husband shot during an altercation at a check point, a son picked off by a sniper’s bullet.
This production is creatively staged, with four simple metal frames and a cotton sheet used to represent an array of set-ups – an army truck, a cramped kitchen, a morgue.
Review by Natasha Tripney
Published online at 10:23 on Monday 10 August 2009
Published in The Stage Newspaper in the issue dated Thursday August 13, 2009

British Theatre Guide
A woman in an Israeli settlement in Gaza dials a wrong number, and finds herself speaking to a Palestinian refugee on the other side of the wall. Rather than hanging up she asks him how he is. And so a simple dialogue starts, which snowballs into a movement as they each pass on the numbers of friends, family members on each side, until thousands of calls across the barrier are being made. This would sound (to me at least) unbearably simplistic, were it not that it is based on true events.
Scene’s devised piece of documentary-style theatre dramatises the suffering on both sides of the divide, and trumpets the ability of simple communication to bridge the differences and just maybe point the way to peace. It quite rightly does not position itself in any moral camp, passing no judgement on the action of the Israeli settlers or the Palestinian suicide bombers. But it does report in detail the trials of Palestinian refugees who have no access to basic food and healthcare and equally explores their culture of glorifying suicide bombers or “freedom fighters” as one character calls them. Then there are the casually racist jokes of the Israeli conscripts, but they are mocking themselves as they say them.
Three actors multi-task endlessly: Katharine Hurst and Kelly Taylor-Smith, playing mothers on either side, give us effective miniature glimpses into family lives soon to be torn apart.
The play takes its task very seriously, and is admirable for this.

Corinne Salisbury