On Dina Ibrahim’s THE MOTHER OF KAMAL , Upstairs at The Gatehouse,

                                                            London 19-28 January 2024


If only my own Mother had, dead now for over a decade.
And in her play Dina Ibrahim duly honours the ghosts
Of her own family, as The Mother of Kamal is restaged
Upstairs at The Gatehouse, on top of Highgate’s hill
And High Street, as her words and emotion perform homily.

With the first One Act version performed at Islington’s
Hen and Chickens, here the play attains a new summit,
And one wreathed in mist. A little too much dry ice
To be frank, as extra atmosphere is not needed,
As the now two hour story, allows for more grounding

And for each one of those ghosts to be kissed.
A working class jewish family in Baghdad,
Have their comparative peace quickly shattered
By State Police suspicion of communist sympathy
And collusion no doubt, requiring Um-Kamal

To submit and sacrifice one of her children,
Sasson, to ensure that Kamal, her eldest’s survival
Will allow his Doctoral quest to run free,
Allowing him to depart to LA and to London,
From his Christlike curing of blindness in shepherds

Sasson’s sacrifice soon becomes symphony,
Accompanied here by Jon Kudlick’s rich music,
Containing Arabian airs and near klezmer, alongside
Aidan Good’s sound enchantments and George Petty’s
Lightning in which part danced dreamscapes colour

Dark air, beautifully. We see tables as home as tableaux
Frame the story. Mirdrit Zhinipotoku  as  Dr. Kamal is dashing,
Heroic and Jojo Rosales as his martyr is appealing,
Passion charged, and saintly. As the twin tales converge,
The improved structure assists us in an overview
Of emotion that at times tells too quickly what should
Be shared carefully. The cast are sharper this time.
Manav Chuadhuri seems to play a different part
With each minute, and the jewel of the first version
Still shines brightly as Nalan Burgess conveys,

Man, woman and child, differentiating in seconds,
Revealing versatility’s value and in commitment alone,
True beauty. Dina Ibrahim plays Um-Kamal with both
Purity and devotion. Her investment is heavy,
And she carries this weight honourably. But we need

Time to care in times like this where detachment
In the world we know is unused to the world of such
Women who gave their lives over so that their children
Could live truthfully. History helps and Ibrahim’s play
And her own  family’s story belongs to a world

We’ve forgotten, and in that her writing also becomes
Painterly.  As we must look at these lives as we would
At art and surrender to experiences that inform us
And alarm us too. Then we’d see  that the lives we now
Lead, wrapped in others wars make us siblings

To these generations, for ages pass painfully,
As if there were a stone in each gut and an ache
In each soul as it struggles, to separate from the body
And for those who read and watch try to be
At one with the dead. Who may give way, yet stay present.

We are not more important, but as this world worsens
We should listen and learn dutifully. About what sacrifice
Truly is, and what wrongful imprisonment fashions;
About allegiance and allegation, and what they mean
To you, yours and me. Watching Director Stephen Freeman’s

Well staged summary of these lost lives of others,
Who scour tombs, wombs and shadows for renewed life
In light, magically. The play runs all next week offering
Ten nights communion, with sons, souls and mothers
I thought of my Mum and my Hungarian Grandmother,
Berji, she lost her husband to Nazis. At this time
Against Israel, this is different heart beating
For jew and for Arab, and for us all, powerfully.
This then is a much needed play. Which is a feeling
That we should always take from the theatre.

From this sacred mother, all others both sanctify
And then save us. Embrace and stand with them
As they dare oppression. God remains in the details
That each faith resists.




                                                             David Erdos  20/1/24





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