Home » Reviews » Drama » I Call My Brothers, Gate Theatre – Review
Credit: Ikin Yum
Credit: Ikin Yum

I Call My Brothers, Gate Theatre – Review

Pros: The acting is solid and committed.

Cons: The script lacks dramatic tension and fails to challenge the audience into a real reflection on terrorism.

Pros: The acting is solid and committed. Cons: The script lacks dramatic tension and fails to challenge the audience into a real reflection on terrorism. The Gate is one of my local theatres and I was particularly excited to receive an invitation for a review of one of their productions. Just a stone's throw from Notting Hill Gate station, this 75-seat venue has a small reception area and the auditorium is unusually long and narrow. For the production of I Call My Brothers, there are three glass cabins against one of the long walls. Inside each one is a…

Summary

Rating

Good

A play about terrorism that approaches a hot topic with lukewarm arguments.

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The Gate is one of my local theatres and I was particularly excited to receive an invitation for a review of one of their productions. Just a stone’s throw from Notting Hill Gate station, this 75-seat venue has a small reception area and the auditorium is unusually long and narrow. For the production of I Call My Brothers, there are three glass cabins against one of the long walls. Inside each one is a man or a woman, dressed in ordinary clothes, seated on the floor and busy reading or doing crosswords. The rest of the set is bare. For audience seating, there are three rows of benches, with the furthest being just a perch seat. With this in mind, my advice is to arrive early in order to settle more comfortably for a show that runs as a single act for 80-minutes.

How does it feel for an innocent boy of North African origin to match the description of a terrorist? It is past 2 AM and a car bomb has just exploded in the middle of the city. Amor (Richard Sumitro) is leaving the club where he’s been dancing and drinking all night, when he realises that his friend Shavi (Jonas Khan) has tried to call him five times and left three messages. Shifting continuously between reminiscence, imagination and reality, we follow Amor during 24-hours of irrational fear, concern for his brothers, false illusions and wrong assumptions. We witness his conflicted interaction with his cousin Ahlem (Lanna Joffrey) and we listen to his awkward conversations with Valeria (Nadia Albina), the woman he’s been stalking for over a decade. Eventually, the audience and the protagonist become aware that he’s a stranger in his own country and the bearer of an appearance that could be used against him at any time.

The overly stretched stage can cause some audience engagement problems but director Tinuke Craig tackles this structural limitation by making sure that the actors never spend more than a few minutes in the same spot. The quick paced action is reinforced by Charles Balfour’s sharp use of lighting, which keeps the audience’s attention throughout the performance. The room is abruptly invaded by a bright white light or suddenly blacked out, in accordance with the flow of Amor’s thoughts and recollections.

The entire cast shows great commitment to the play, impeccably led by the dynamic Richard Sumitro. Unfortunately, their skills get little support from a script that lacks depth or a true exploration of the characters. In this hallucinatory monologue/dialogue facts, feeling and actions are often just suggested. Personally, I found it hard to grasp its implicit message, a paradoxical one of inclusion and overcoming of stereotypes that is presented through exploring these very stereotypes. I Call My Brothers fails to challenge the audience into a deeper reflection on the hot topics of terrorism and Islamophobia and, in this regard, would have benefitted from some more dramatic tension.

Author: Jonas Hassen Khemiri
Translated by: Rachel Willson-Broyles
Director: Tinuke Craig
Producer: Gate Theatre Notting Hill
Box Office: 020 7229 0706
Booking Link: http://www.gatetheatre.co.uk/events/all-productions/i_call_my_brothers?spektrix_bounce=true
Booking Until: 3 December 2016

About Marianna Meloni

Marianna Meloni
Marianna, being Italian, has an opinion on just about everything. Her dream has always been to become an arts critic and, after collecting a few degrees, she realised that it was easier to learn how to write in a foreign language than finding a job in her home country. She believes that anything deserves an honest review and that more people going to the theatre would result in fewer wars. Recently she has developed intolerance toward the words “secret” and “immersive” but she hopes it’s only temporary.