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SEEKING REFUGE by Rick Jones (Thick and Thin Theatre). At Randolph Theatre. July 9 at 3 pm, July 11 at.
SEEKING REFUGE by Rick Jones (Thick and Thin Theatre). At Randolph Theatre. July 9 at 3 pm, July 11 at 9 pm, July 13 at 7 pm, July 14 at 4 pm, July 16 at 5:15 pm. See listing. Rating: NNNN
This dark and disturbing new musical (and winner of the Paul OSullivan Prize for best new musical script) contrasts the experiences of two Syrian sisters separated by the ongoing civil war and refugee crisis.
With their home destroyed and parents dead, Mara (Liana Bdewi) manages to get her younger sister Saleet (Trisha Talreja) on a boat to an uncertain future overseas, but in exchange she must become a servant (and sex slave) to military leader Tobim (Nabil Ayoub).
The emotional action alternates between Saleets long journey through unwelcoming foreign countries, crowded refugee camps and the labyrinth-like immigration system during which she meets and falls in love with fellow escapee Manu (Noah Beemer) and Maras brutal treatment back home by militants now considered terrorists.
The songs, performed with piano accompaniment, are appropriately brooding and operatic, capturing the anxiety, uncertainty, fear and horror central to the war-time civilian and refugee experience. Writer Rick Jones and director Barbara Larose create loads of suspense in tense scenes at boarder checkpoints, airports and courtrooms, but also present sweet moments of altruism, compassion, love and hope.
As it is, this bare-bones production would definitely play better on a stage smaller than the cavernous Randolph, but the strength of both the material and performances shines through, making a compelling case for an expanded and enhanced remount in the future.