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BWW REVIEW: THE SOUND OF WAITING Challenges Audiences To Consider The Humanity And Heartache Of The Immigration Story

BWW REVIEW: THE SOUND OF WAITING Challenges Audiences To Consider The Humanity And Heartache Of The Immigration Story

Mary Anne Butler's THE SOUND OF WAITING contrasts the humanity of a multitude of migrant stories with the inhumanity of systems and structures set to stop their progress. The new Australian work, shortlisted for the 2018 NSW Premier's Literary Award for Playwriting, is a result of former Prime Minister Tony Abbot's callous comments on asylum seekers but seeks to strip away the politics of the argument to get to the underlying personal stories.

The premise of the two hander is that Hamed Mokri (Reza Momenzada) has just witnessed his wife and son dies a horrific death due to an explosion in the street and he has chosen to take his surviving daughter and flee the country. As he recounts his experience and the emotions that surge through him, the Angel of Death (Gabrielle Scawthorn) gives an insight into an army of 'soldiers' set out to stop people like Hamed reaching their goal. The two stories sit side by side as love and compassion are countered by orders and achievements, each driven by a fear of some form before The Angel of Death is given her mission, her target being Hamed.

Director Suzanne Pereira presents this poetic work with the aid of Samuel James' video artistry as images and animations transform the sheer curtains into Hamed's world of fire and flames and endless ocean whilst also presenting the Angel of Death's descent from the heavens. The curtains contain the stories as they unfold whilst the characters emerge to deliver thoughts direct to the audience. Tegan Nicholls' sound design helps colour the events that are recounted whilst working with the musicality and percussive nature of Butler's writing.

Momenzada, making his professional debut, presents a broken man holding himself together for the sake of his daughter. He delivers Butler's text with a wonderful pace and variety but lets the words elicit the emotional response from the audience rather than attempting to overdramatise the work. As a migrant from Afghanistan himself, he appears to infuse his own knowledge into the expression of the amalgam of stories which Butler has blended to become Hamed's story.

Scawthorn bounces between a 'business like' expression of the Angel of Death's understanding that she is just following orders without emotion and a an almost psychopathic glee at planning how to fulfil her mission. There is a robotic response to the receipt of orders, drawing parallels to the minions throughout the ages that have used the defence that they were just doing their job, brainwashed to the point where they no longer feel and connect with what they are doing.

Regardless of your views on asylum seekers, THE SOUND OF WAITING is an engaging insight into the experiences of people who have had to flee their homelands, reminding people that for most it is a major decision and filled with anxiety and fear as they put their lives into other people's hands. Whilst the work could stand alone as Hamed's story, the Angel of Death asks the audience to consider the lack of humanity in hiding behind policy, procedure, rules and regulations as emotional engagement is supressed and people become numbers.


31 March - 22 April 2018

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