This double bill of new writing by Tom Coash brings us to Cairo, where we're welcomed with dates and hookah pipes. These are two politically relevant plays on important issues in the Middle East, giving an open and balanced airing, though their messages are weakly conveyed.
These pieces are very carefully written to present impressively well-balanced arguments, which are fundamental and relevant topics for today's world.
In Veils, two Muslim roommates, one American and one Egyptian, studying at the American Egyptian University, debate the controversy of hijabs and the misinterpretations each viewpoint has. Conflict peaks in their dorm after they each end up on opposing sides of a protest about the University's plans to ban the wearing of veils. Ideas about racial judgement, police brutality and Sharia law are incorporated too. In beautiful summation, Samar says about the hijab: "I hope I am never forced to wear it and you are never forced to take it off".
In Ukimwi, Coash tackles gender politics, prostitution culture among expats and the myths and superstitions surrounding AIDs. An American oil worker, John, celebrates his birthday in a bar where he is joined by a Kenyan prostitute who calls herself Ukimwi.
The acting throughout both plays is mostly strong, although occasionally too demonstrative and the strength of the accents meant that the words sometimes lacked clarity. Javier Rasero's embarrassed modesty is very well-pitched in Ukimwi, while Verona Moitt confidently creates two contrasting characters between the two plays.
These pieces are very carefully written to present impressively well-balanced arguments, which are fundamental and relevant topics for today's world. However, in creating these almost clinically balanced arguments, we lose some of the humanity which makes theatre what it is. Each character becomes representative of their opinion or situation rather than a rounded human being, which is not helped by a curious tendency to deliver the script directly out to the audience instead of to each other, as you would in conversation.