Reviewed – 20th May 2018
“the ideas of the play are beautifully explored on a visual level, there seems to be a strange imbalance between the two halves of the play”
For Aris and Zoi, time has stopped. Confined all day in their little room, the siblings have nobody but themselves, stuck in a tiny space as outside, life is dominated by war. Starting with the limitations of the room, The Parade plays with the idea of boundaries throughout the play. What seems to be a means of keeping the children safe soon becomes a catalyst of anxieties. Whatever hopes the children have of the outside world, they are overwhelmed by the fear of what they might lose when they cross the edges of their known space.
This focus on boundaries is artfully translated onto the set (actually the set of another production taking place – Not Talking), which, despite its minimalistic design, proves to be profoundly enriching to the exploration of the play’s themes. An array of wire intertwined with red string divide the children’s room as the floor is littered with war toys. Just as the room is sectioned in itself, the children’s only access to the outside world is a tiny shattered window, whose magnifying pieces of glass reflect the distorted version of the outside they see.
Even though the ideas of the play are beautifully explored on a visual level, there seems to be a strange imbalance between the two halves of the play. While the first part centres around the brother-sister relationship evoking thoughts on emotional violence, the focus of the second half turns entirely on the outside, while still being narrated by Aris from the little window in the room. The long preamble might be the reason why the nightmarish irony of the second part does not come across as climactic as it could have.
Despite this, Barış Celiloğlu’s directing debut had some powerful moments, especially Aris’ recount of his nightmare, in which breathing, light and silence create an almost rhythmical display of his mounting fears. These moments of a child’s shock and fear, convincingly acted by Emre Gündoğdu and Dilek Yorulmaz, are the strength of the play, making plain the absurdity of war and its power, as it slowly moves into everyone’s, even the most innocent, lives.
Although the performance is in Turkish, surtitles make it very easy to follow, and perhaps even deepen the idea of a divide by creating a language boundary. All in all, The Parade is a play where nothing really is as it seems to be, with the children’s perspective and confusion allowing fresh insight into the experience of war.
Reviewed by Laura Thorn