BÉZNĂ Theatre brings another powerful and hard-hitting performance traversing space, time, years and gender to centre conversations about love, sacrifice, strength and war.
Wipe these tears is based on interviews with over 90 individuals, including survivors of war and torture, clinical psychologists and medics working with ex-service people and the UK’s leading anti-war, anti-Islamophobia, state crime and colonial studies academics and activists.
The ensemble of female, working class and BME-led cast hold forte traversing the narratives and transforming characters, accents and costumes seamlessly. It was satisfying to witness symbols of British Imperialism receive what they deserved and see how capitalists profit from the wars on stage.
We start at the innocuous setting of a teacher’s staff room shiny with recent diversity training where all is done ‘for the children’. The staff room eerily transforms into a torture chamber, then a dining room, followed by a couch in a hotel in Afghanistan. Each part of the play is a story of imperialism that we don’t often see in the theatre. Using a shaky, live camera projection, photographs and figurines representing war scenes create a lasting impression. The camera is also on the audience, and we witness ourselves being witnessed.
We also hear the grief of the immigrant who forces themselves not to speak their language, the lament of a lover trying to find the parts of their loved one through the burning and smelting, the fear in the eyes of one who sees guns change hands and knows what to expect next. The songs and soundscape throughout the play are moving and gritty.
Camden People’s Theatre promises to be an eye-opener whenever I enter its doors. I love that they use old playing cards for entry tickets. Sustainable and waste-free.
The action and pace were relentless, and I would have loved more opportunities to be able to catch my breath and stay with the stories that were unravelled. I also missed an opportunity for discussion with the cast after the performance. However, the artists don’t owe us an explanation or forum. Here’s to more art questioning the status quo and leaving us with more questions about the mirage we choose to see.
The audience is left with the word ‘There is no bow ‘on the screen at the show’s end.
There was no applause.
Instead, there was a feeling in the pit of one’s stomach of the enormity of what had been uncovered and the staleness of our realities.
Playing until 22nd October, https://cptheatre.co.uk/whatson/Wipe-These-Tears
Reviewer: Anisha Pucadyil
Reviewed: 13th October 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★