Tuesday, 9 March 2010

My Name is Rachel Corrie, Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

A deeply absorbing study of this young woman's personal complexities, artistic depths and burning desire to help end the cruel injustices visited upon the Palestinian people.

A profoundly political statement infused with compassionate conviction and loving concern for suffering others.

Actress Mairi Phillips brings to director Ros Philips's intimately-crafted set a moving, eloquent and beautifully-delivered account of Rachel's short-life journey, from child idealist to determined activist.

Handling an exquisitely nuanced narrative with great assurance, Phillips gives sincere and fascinating vent to Rachel's fragile fears and apprehensions as well as her courageous commitment and passionate resolve.

The performance conveys the very essence of Rachel's proactive politics, driven by a relentless effort to comprehend how such atrocities can be tolerated and ignored by the 'civilized' Western powers.

Through Rachel's vividly-detailed diary, we also get a powerful sense of the Palestinians' own stoic humanity, illustrated by their kind, selfless caring for Rachel and in their simple longing to live in peace.

In a further illuminating correspondence, she answers her mother's lingering discomfort with Palestinian violence, resulting in Rachel's mature analysis of why a people can be pushed to such desperate forms of retaliation.

Indeed, as with Rachel's peaceful presence in front of the giant bulldozer that cut her down, she wonders why Palestinian responses to the world's fourth most powerful army remain so courageously passive.

Her words also register, in more implicit form, what Israel itself knows and fears: that even the mightiest array of military, political and psychological oppression can never crush that spirit of resistance.

It's a fine theatrical indictment, made all the more timely by the Corrie family's current legal suit against Israel. As with their consistent efforts to stop the case coming to court, Israel and its protectors have done all they can to castigate and block the play around the world.

With the Corries and witnesses to Rachel's killing finally permitted their day in court, this remarkable production is helping audiences to understand the ruthless capacities of the Israeli state and the tragic consequences for those, like Rachel, prepared to stand in its way.


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