Review of From the Rubble by Perth Theatre Company in association with PICA

 

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Torn, white buildings. A man with a gun. Piles of paper strewn across the floor like debris.

This was the stage that greeted us when we entered the theatre. As the lights dimmed, the humble stage was transformed through cleverly projected video footage; animation; puppetry; and a haunting soundtrack.

From the Rubble was inspired by the work of Walkley Award-winning journalist and Middle East correspondent Sophie McNeill. Though not a documentary, it explores the everyday lives of civilians in conflict zones and forces us to confront the realities of war that we often don’t think about while we’re safely on the other side of the world.

At the start of the show, three girls are playing together when their games take a chilling turn and the tone is set for the rest of the piece. Later, newsreader Tracy Vo is projected onto a white silhouette as she reports from inside the home where 52 members of a family are trapped.

Nuanced performances by Mei Saraswati, Tina Torabi and Mikala Westall bring a human face to the cost of war. At times, the harrowing sound effects made the audience jump – as they should, for we are supposed to feel uncomfortable about the erosion of innocence before our eyes. While the stories of real people in times of war are often lost amidst political point-scoring, snappy headlines and digestible soundbites, From the Rubble gives a voice to those who have been silenced.

If you’re in the mood for light-hearted theatre, then From the Rubble won’t be to your liking. But if you’re looking for an ambitious work of art that makes you think long after the show is over, then that’s exactly what this show achieves.

From the Rubble, presented by Perth Theatre Company in association with Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, is on until March 28 at PICA’s Performance Space.

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