You Bury Me 4**** - One4Review
one4review | On 14, Aug 2021
A rehearsed reading of You Bury Me presented by Paines Plough, Ellie Keel Productions and 45 North at the Royal Lyceum Theatre as part of the International Festival. The play is set in post-Arab-Spring Cairo and features six distinct characters, all with interesting stories to tell, as they fumble their way through love, sex and discovering who they are in Cairo – superficially a conservative society but, in reality, a police state with many layers of controls and restrictions. The writer, Ahlam, won the first ever Women’s Prize for Playwriting in 2020 for You Bury Me, which she began working on in 2015 while living in the UK. Outside of Egypt, she was able to look at events surrounding the Arab Spring from a distance and her take on the revolution, and the brutality that followed it, is that young people were being punished for daring to dream of a better future or for just daring to be happy or hopeful.
The six actors begin behind lecterns at the back of the stage and move forward to take centre stage when they are speaking their lines, brilliantly bringing the words and action to life, despite reading from scripts. In fact, the scripts do introduce a physical distance between the characters, preventing them from fully interacting, and thereby help to create a tension reminiscent of the social tensions and restrictions of the time. My main criticism of the evening was the extremely severe social distancing in operation within the theatre, despite the fact that full audiences are allowed again. The adherence to a strict 2m distancing meant that only handful of people were able to enjoy a thoroughly enjoyable 90 minutes of theatre. The cast deserved a much larger audience.
Reviewed by Howard
13-14 August 2021