Sunday, January 13, 2008

I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady from Rwanda

Dobama does it again: fine script, well performed and directed

Dobama’s ‘I HAVE BEFORE ME A REMARKABLE DOCUMENT GIVEN TO ME BY A YOUNG LADY FROM RWANDA,’ is typical Dobama. As it has done over and over, Dobama is showcasing yet another theatrical gem. The lightly financed theatre with no home, just keeps coming up with the right script, the right cast and the right director as it wanders the Cleveland landscape.

‘I HAVE BEFORE ME...’ is a touching, humorous, meaningful story of the emotional and intellectual relationship between Juliette, a young woman who was a survivor of the 1994 Rwanda massacres, and Simon, a British poet who tries to help her write her personal story. In the process, he finds his literary voice and psychological substance, and she finds a meaningful life.

The play has been called “A remarkable achievement…a stirring tale of human bravery in the face of adversity.” And, “an important, timely piece of theatre that manages to explore political issues and express moral outrage without ever once lapsing into moralizing and political rhetoric.”

Sonja Linden, the play’s author based the material on an experience she had while working at the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. She met a young woman from Rwanda, whose impulse to write had started in a refugee camp shortly after the murder of her entire family. What began as a testimonial act became a journey of healing, which resulted in her feeling once again 'clean.'

As the daughter of refugees from Nazi Germany, Linden felt compelled to draw attention to the appalling situation in Rwanda so that holocausts like this “would never happen again.”

Dobama’s production is outstanding. Director Brian Zoldessy grasps the concept and has brought all the correct nuances into play. The production moves smoothly, accenting the humor and pathos in just the right ways.

Scott Miller develops Simon perfectly as the angst-filled and frustrated British poet. At the start we realize that Simon has lost his productive voice. As the play proceeds we experience his getting in touch with the emotions he needs to return to be his creative self. Miller does an excellent job of nonverbally transition from emotionally frozen to emotionally euphoric.

Andrea Belser makes Juliette live, she inhabits the role. We feel her terror, we experience her losses, we silently cheer for her to achieve her goal, we revel in her reattachment with a family member, we are driven to understand the horror of horror.

Richard Ingraham’s sound design adds great depth and. The sounds of Rwanda underscore the beauty of the country and the misery of yet another senseless destruction of precious human life.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: What a way to start a new theatrical season!!! ‘I HAVE BEFORE ME A REMARKABLE DOCUMENT GIVEN TO ME BY A YOUNG LADY FROM RWANDA’ is a MUST SEE production. Bravo Dobama!