By Celma Costa
The mood is rather somber, at least more than what the typical theatre audience would expect. It’s the evening’s last performance, and we are called to gather for a brief word from the playwright.
Caution. This play needs you to be quiet. And sit close. These are his words as he ushers us in.
Three transparent panels stand behind her. The woman, in a contrasting white dress, studies her audience as she begins her monologue about the functioning of the heart.
Subsequent images of heart scans take over the room as we are taken into the journey of her own body — through an accident that left her in a coma, for thirty days.
What you don’t know, she states, is what happens before you die.
“Barzakh” is an arabic word that illustrates the ambiguous space between life and death, and the title of the play.
The journey inside the human mind is one that never stops, not even when the heart stops beating. The audience embarked on a journey of mysterious assumptions and converging imagery that left us wondering, “where to from here”?
One key aspect of the show is the relationship between time and space, and this is continuously illustrated through the performance’s integration of technology, thus bringing an entirely new outlook on multimedia performance.
The marriage of sound and picture served as a vehicle to enhanced exploration. An “out of body” experience not only felt by the character, but also a shared experience for all involved.
There is also the fact that this show is performed entirely in Arabic, keeping true to its Lebanese origins. Though a shock at first, the challenge came when the audience had to choose between relying on body language or resorting to reading the subtitles.
As in theatre, so in life communication comes in different shapes and forms, and “Barzakh” managed to successfully remind the audience that theatrical expression is not necessarily verbal, but emcopasses, instead, an array of visual aids to convey a message.
“Barzakh” is a challenging performance based on a deeply personal experience, and it will be on show again on Sunday, the 27th of November.