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Lucy Komisar

Edinburgh Fringe:

“Bride of the Gulf”
striking view of what West did to Iraq of the Gulf

Written by John M. Meyer; directed by Karen Alvarado;
music by Sean Ullmer and Kais Ouda.
Thinkery & Verse at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh.
Aug 2 – 27, 2018.

This stunning play, sometimes surreal, tells the story of Basra, Iraq, in 2007, from the point of view of the people who lived there, the residents and the militias. The main character, Hero (Karen Alvarado, who also directs), is a woman in search of her disappeared husband, Aqeel (Sufi Malhotra), who was a translator for the British. As counterpoint are militiamen who comment on events in an almost comic fashion.

Karen Alvarado as Hero and Sufi Malhotra as Aqeel argue about the consequences of collaborating with the British Army

This was a period of exceptional violence, if that phrase even has meaning, after the British withdrawal from Basra, southern Iraq. Playwright John Meyer had been in Iraq that year as a US Airborne Ranger. The play was built on a collaboration with artists from Basra.

Hero was 10 when the Americans invaded Iraq in 1991; when the play occurs in 2003, she is 23.

A British radio broadcast is suddenly heard over a hand-cranked radio. Hero is being interviewed by the BBC.

Militiamen are listening. They talk about how Americans view the war through movies and joke about how they will be depicted. “In 1993, ‘Hot Shots,’ Charlie Sheen …he kills Saddam twice, first in a sword duel, and then Saddam comes back but he’s like werewolf Saddam. Well, it’s a comedy, so they push a piano on top of Saddam and kill him.” It was 1993, but Saddam died in 2006. The piano must have missed.

The laconic BBC reporters appear half bored by the repetition of violence.


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