Two men on a stage against a black backdrop. One is pushing shards of broken white plates with a large push broom towards the second man, who is seated in a chair and looking straight ahead

PALMYRA

PuSh International Performing Arts Festival

In this prizewinning piece, the set is almost bare and broken crockery is the main prop; PALMYRA may seem slight at first glance, but it’s about as rich in implication as one could ask for. The situation can be described bluntly and simply: two men are onstage, and one of them has a plate while the other does not. From this, conflict emerges that ranges from the comical to the brutal. The audience is drawn into the work in surprising and provocative ways…

Named after a Syrian city that has changed hands several times during the current fighting, this show slowly builds to the level of violence, creating and sustaining moral ambiguity along the way. What emerges is a meditation on revenge, world politics and the positions from which we judge them. The small-scale war onstage grows large in the mind; very rarely does one see so much communicate with so few resources. In its humour, its aggression and its pathos, this is a stunning work.

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