Reviewed – 9th November 2019
“too leaden by weak performances and an uninspired realisation to feel meaningfully affecting”
Ask any Brit born after 1990 about conflict between Greeks and Turks in Cyprus and they’d probably be fairly clueless. Thankfully, Forbidden Stories is here to shine a light on this oft-neglected time in history, although the light it shines is frequently murky and emotionally unengaging.
Incorporating a myriad of multimedia aspects, Forbidden Stories seeks to give voice to the everyday Greek and Turkish Cypriots whose lives were overturned by political game-playing and hatemongering. The stories being told by the four-strong cast chart the history of the conflict and attempts at reunification, supplemented by the likes of shadowplay and live video, describing how lives were uprooted, people were forced into situations they would come to regret for the rest of their days, and the little victories they were able to claim, such as misfiring mortars resulting in a huge haul of fish to eat.
The variety of the of the tales on offer is undermined by the delivery however; they are pretty much all performed as monologues, which feels like a terrible waste of the three other actors that could’ve been utilised, and of the opportunity to depict these stories is a truly theatrical way, and the use of multimedia elements feels underwhelming compared to the squandered potential. The tonal inconsistencies between the actors also did a disservice to the stories – where one portrayed a prisoner of war guard with a guttural drive, another delivered her scenes with the emotional attachment of a newsreader, while another may well have accidentally wandered onto the set from a children’s show given the hyper-exaggerated facial expressions she was pulling.
The real core of Forbidden Stories is the content of the stories being told, however, which have been adapted from interviews with Greek and Turkish Cypriots by the Ludens Ensemble, and explore a number of thought-provoking and harrowing concepts, such as how each portrays themselves and the opposing side in their own versions of history, and the kinds of acts that the conflict incited. That said, this depiction of those stories is too leaden by weak performances and an uninspired realisation to feel meaningfully affecting.
Reviewed by Ethan Doyle
Rich Mix as part of Voila! Europe 2019
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