Every year there is a hot topic that arrives at the Fringe. This year, it seems to be Rwanda. I cant say Im ever opposed to socially conscious theatre, especially when its well done. In a welcome coincidence, Miracle in Rwanda is the second one-woman performance examining the conditions and the history of genocide in the African nation that I have had the pleasure to see (the first being Jenni Wolfsons Rash, which I also highly recommend).
Miracle in Rwanda is the true story of Immaculee Ilibagiza (portrayed by the shows writer, Leslie Lewis Sword), a young woman who survived the massacre of the Tutsis by hiding in the small bathroom of a local pastor with seven other women for over two months. The story begins on the day the President of Rwandas plane is shot down in 1994, with Sword taking on not only the role of Immaculee herself, but also of her attackers, protectors and her family members.
To say that Sword has a strong presence is an understatement. She is striking and statuesque, and flips from one emotion to another without ever stumbling. This is no easy task since she has set up the show to have moments where the character shifts are instant. For example, there is a scene where she has to switch from playing a terrified and shaking Immaculee to an angry and arrogant Hutu soldier, then right back. Its completely captivating to witness.
Most impressive, however, is the way in which Sword has managed to create an engaging and important theatrical work with absolutely no gimmicks. Indeed, you will find no sets, fancy costumes, and barely any props. She relies on only herself and her abilities as a performer to carry this show, while additionally placing complete trust in Immaculees story. With the combination of the strong performance and beautiful writing, Miracle in Rwanda is an absolute must-see.