Off The Curtain is described as an ‘East-meets-West’ one-woman show, using a mixture of storytelling, acting and poetic narrative. Sara Mashayekh bravely uses a number of performance techniques to attempt to make her audience as passionate about what she has to say as she is.
As much as I enjoyed watching someone so clearly enthused by their subject matter, I didn't feel that she showed anywhere near the technical ability to put into practice everything she had hoped to achieve.
Centering around the Shahnameh, an ancient Persian book of epic poems, this show’s plot specifically examines the story of Rostam and Sohrab, a pair of father and son warriors revered by their peers as great and strong, and the epic loves and battles surrounding their tale.
After a shaky and nervous start Mashayekh states, "I have a story to tell you.” A colourful backdrop and some simple props are used to demonstrate the characters and relationships in question. She physically breaks between different styles of delivery through the use of a chair and when she sits we see a change in tone as she uses it to share her own personal reflections on the story. While she sits, she tells us she first heard the tale of Rostam and Sohrab as a young girl: "the first work of fiction to make me cry."
Mashayekh is likeable and energetic in her delivery and it's clear that she's pulling every trick in her theatrical book to draw the audience in, but as much as I enjoyed watching someone so clearly enthused by their subject matter, I didn't feel that she showed anywhere near the technical ability to put into practice everything she had hoped to achieve. If I had been attending a lecture on ancient Persian literature I would have found her refreshingly charismatic, but in this theatre piece she lacked the expressivity required of a strong and dynamic solo lead.