Oh My Sweet Land – reviews of 'mesmerising' Syrian drama

Apr 23, 2014

Corinne Jaber's 'searing' one-woman show about Syria gives the headlines a human face

What you need to know 
A new play about Syria, Oh My Sweet Land, has opened at the Young Vic Theatre London. Palestinian theatre-maker Amir Nizar Zuabi directs the one-woman show, conceived and performed by Syrian-German actress Corinne Jaber.

In Oh My Sweet Land Jaber plays a woman of mixed Syrian-European heritage cooking a traditional meal in Paris while recounting her quest to find her disappeared Syrian lover. Jaber draws on stories from interviews in the Syrian refugee camps of Lebanon and Jordan. Runs until 3 May.

What the critics like 
The use of scent in this mesmerising "must-smell" play is an inspired touch, says Laura Barnett in The Observer. Both horrific and bleakly funny, this intense theatrical experience is an important act of bearing witness to the terrible conflict.

The desperate plight of Syria's refugees is "searingly and sensitively communicated in this one-woman show", says Paul Taylor in The Independent. This is not docu-drama, but an impressionistic first-person tale conveying the piercing, tragic sense of a people who feel abandoned by the West.

Ancestral memory and a woman's labyrinthine quest intertwine in this "extraordinary" theatre piece, says Michael Billington in The Guardian. It is a stunning piece of reportage that also shows theatre's capacity to give an event in the headlines a recognisable human face.

What they don't like
It appears to be critiquing the expat's detached attachment, the right to mourn from afar, and the sense of impotence, says Matt Trueman in the Daily Telegraph. Yet by encouraging these same pangs of sadness in us, the play "teeters dangerously close to indulgence", becoming a cri de coeur, not a call to arms.   

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