Saw a pretty impressive play this weekend. Theatre so good that it elicits a reaction of silence by both using silence as a major plot theme and a dramatic device.
Described by [playright] Wajdi Mouawad as an exploration of “the questions of origins”, Scorched centers on Jeanne and her twin brother Simon, who are summoned to the office of a notary to hear the last will and testament of their mother, Nawal. They are each handed a letter written by their mother; one is to be delivered to their brother and one to their father. The mystery begins, sending them on a journey into their mother’s past, to a Middle Eastern country engulfed in a civil war where she was a political activist and later became a prisoner. Through poetic language and evocative imagery, the play connects the origins of these three members of a family in startling and unforgettable ways.
I caught this brilliantly staged show in Montreal at the Centaur Theatre. From here it tours Winnipeg and Edmonton, I believe, before visiting the US and Australia. It’s a powerful production with a singular moment at which, as Adrienne Clarkson remarks on the National Arts Centre (which commissioned and developed the play) website, “the whole audience realizes something at one time, and everybody breathes together.”