BWW Review: TRACING ERASED MEMORIES, Central London
London, 2010: students flood the streets in protest of the recent cuts to education funding and are kettled in Whitehall. Cairo, 2011: the political climate leads Egypt to rise and rebel against the current government.
London, 2019: Dina Mohamed and Hilda Moucharrafieh debut at Camden Fringe with Tracing Erased Memories: A Parallel Walk of London and Cairo after being the recipients of the International Bursary Award at Amsterdam Fringe Festival last year.
The experience breaks the boundaries of immersive theatre and evades any genre. The audience is formed by just one person at the time who, after being given a tablet and headphones, is taken on a walk along Whitehall. The video jumps from scenes of the Egyptian resistance to tales of Student opposition.
The speakers detail their first-hand involvement with the movements, describing the escalation of disorder and police brutality with chilling tones. The two creators guide the stroll through traffic and stoplights, making specific stops to let the events retold on screen sink in or pausing exactly in front of landmarks described by the students connected to the revolts.
The comparison they draw makes it clear, violence looks and sounds the same everywhere. Peaceful protesters become mobs of people marching, and law enforcement corps turn brutal. Crowds are baited and attacked, and single individuals have the power to tip the situation over the edge and trigger retaliation.
It's a jolting half hour of shocking images and painful recollections. The partakers are seamlessly led to employ intense levels of trust as they're engrossed in the testimonies whilst being escorted through potential dangers. This seems nearly silly to point out when the real protagonists of the story pursue their ideals and fight for what they believe in.
Cairo becomes London, and London becomes Cairo as we're thrown into Tracing Erased Memories. The anxiety and perils of two rebellions that couldn't be more different share a unique core, they seep through the screen and create a shocking connection between cultures and uprisings.