Sunday, September 24

The Woman Who Crossed the Road – Toxteth Library

Performed as part of WoWFEST23, The Woman Who Crossed the Road is a piece of contemporary theatre created by Najmeh Shoara and Kevin Dyer about a woman who bears the marks of being displaced but who, because of her courage and intelligence, is kicking back as hard as she can.

The performance is based on the true stories of the many women forced to leave places and start over again and whilst pre-dating the tragic death of Mahsa Amini in Iran in September 2022, it was updated to more strongly reflect its Iranian origins and alignment with the current protests there. Narrated by Shoara, courtesy of a Zoom link, the words are transformed through physical performance from Stephanie Greer.

Whilst this is Shoara’s story, it is more than that. Her experiences resonate with those protesting in Iran from where she fled. Her words are their voice. Yet it is also the story of women the world over who struggle to be seen, to be heard, who, if they escape and survive to start somewhere new, find themselves unrecognised – unrecognisable even – and their struggle, fuelled by individual courage and determination, begins again.

Greer’s powerful performance – utilising a variety of props but limited by what she could carry and the challenge of navigating emotional and physical minefields – echoed in the intimate surround of a world of books and knowledge that were in touching distance but impossible to reach. The added sense of distance provided by tonight’s Zoom link and the partial disjointedness between word and action fittingly provided yet another layer of interpretation and meaning. The choice of accompanying music reflected the eclectic taste of people whose protest songs are unsurprisingly similar to our own, embracing rap and hip-hop amongst other genres.

There is a lot we don’t know about the Middle East, but we rarely challenge our own misconceptions: widely considered to be one of the cradles of civilisation, Iran remains a hyper-educated, hyper-intelligent society of people who are interested and interesting, in spite of the abuses of various regimes – internal and external – over the last hundred years. This is a vital piece of theatre which engages with its audience, challenging them to make a difference in the world.

Najmeh Shoara is an actor, performer and director who uses contemporary movement and dance as her repertoire. Her practice spans multi-media, mixed art, text-based, physical theatre, and contemporary dance. Informed by her experiences of dislocation and displacement, disrupting certainty is a recurring theme in her practice; her emotional responses fuel her sense of being in the world.

Kevin Dyer is a published poet, has been a magazine and newspaper journalist, a reviewer, and a leader of many creative writing sessions. He has over thirty commissioned plays behind him – for radio, for young people’s audiences, arts centres, rural tours, as well as a large-scale community play. Kevin’s play ‘The Syrian Baker’ – also concerned with the desperate journeys people make to find safety – won the Writers Guild Award for Best Play in 2022.

Stephanie Greer is a multidisciplinary performer who, since training at Bretton Hall and gaining a first class honours degree in Acting, has enjoyed a successful career both nationally and internationally. She trained to be an Aerialist at Barnton Circus where she is now an associate artist. She enjoys the creative process of making new work and has devised numerous theatre and circus shows.

Writing on the Wall celebrates writing, diversity, and storytelling, further details

Reviewer: Mark Davoren

Reviewed: 26th May 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.