Review: Jericho's Rose
Image: Hope Theatre
London. Tel-Aviv. Paris. Baghdad. English. Hebrew. French. Arabic.
Two writers. Two generations. Searching for home.
This innovative and beautiful show invites the audience on a breathtaking journey into the past, present and future.
Fusing new writing, movement, live music and loop pedalled sound to create a unique tapestry of fragmented memories - remembered, forgotten and rediscovered again, Jericho's Rose empowers a stronger dialogue around the subjects of both immigration and dementia.
Jericho's Rose explores the experience of displacement from a dual perspective, a grandfather struggling with Alzheimer's and an artist struggling to stay in the UK.
What happens when neither can remember where they belong?
Althea Theatre return to London with a brand new show, following the success of Off West End award-nominated One Last Thing (For Now) in 2017.
An international theatre ensemble of British and non-British actors and theatre makers, Althea Theatre explore international and local viewpoints, creating new work to challenge issues prevalent to European society today.
Previous shows have toured around the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Mexico and America, including a sold-out award-winning run at the San Diego Fringe in 2017 (Outstanding Site Specific Show).
During much of this show, written and performed by Lilac Yosiphon, an image projected onto gauze at the back of the playing area suggests the twisting coils or filaments of the brain.
That could merely be my interpretation of what might easily be a very different concept, but it nevertheless seems to fit with the nature of this piece which combines the connected but different experiences of two people.
Photo courtesy Lidia Crisafulli
Their situations are told through movement, dialogue and song with the added element of Sam Elwin's guitar which provides not only music, but sound effects along the way.
Mr Elwin provides almost a continual accompaniment to Ms Yosiphon's narrative which centres on her own attempts to acquire a visa to live in London and her grandfather's descent into dementia in Israel.
Apart from being connected by genes and both being writers, there are similarities in their on-going experiences and emotions, as well as what "home" means to them.
As her own character, Ms Yosiphon wants to make her home in London, but finds herself moving around from country to country while her application for a UK visa is finally granted.
Her grandfather can't remember any more where he, or his granddaughter lives, having had memories erased by a disorder that the medical professionals say cannot be reordered, and can only be temporarily delayed by medication.
At the start, we find Ms Yosiphon walking round tirelessly in slow motion with her battered suitcase - symbolic of her search for home.
That initial sequence sets the format for a piece where movement is a dominant descriptive feature.
There are occasions when the movement seems forced and occasionally obscure with no immediately identifiable rational for it, even though it's impressionistically powerful at times.
And this is a production which is largely composed of impressions rather than offering a comprehensive, dialogue-based plot, even if the basic elements are clearly defined.
Repetition figures significantly here, particularly in terms of grandpa's decline where we hear him endlessly asking the same questions.
Photo courtesy Lidia Crisafulli
Though we find repetition in all manner of creative vehicles - songs, poems, mannerisms and so on - the repetition here starts to grate after a while.
Of course, the oft-repeated questions are part of the condition being described - but it unavoidably becomes irritating, and mars what is in many ways a well-orchestrated and inventive piece.
Repetition also finds its way, as in several other shows I've seen recently, into the mirroring of the ending with the opening, convincing me that there's a trend in progress but which is now beginning to feel over-used and somewhat stale.
As a whole, the production feels a little long and though there's much to commend in the carefully-worked staging, and in Ms Yosiphon's central performance, it strangely failed to really draw me in and I felt emotionally disconnected from both the themes and the nature of the experience.
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ActDrop listing for Hope Theatre
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