Stella Turi, Thursday 11 October 2012
Elegy is best described as a poetic love letter to the victims of homophobic murders in ‘liberated’ Iraq.
This politically relevant and poignant play has been devised and directed by Douglas Rintoul. Rintoul was inspired to tell the truth about this largley unreported human injustice, which contradicts the supposed impact of the liberation of Iraq. In the process of telling this tale, the play brings the audience uncomfortably close to the existence of some that seem so far away.
Rintoul describes the play: ‘It follows somebody who is exiled from their country... somebody who leaves and travels the world and comes to the UK and it’s all about their asylum process. It’s about them looking back on their lives and trying to understand how they came from a an extraordinarily happy childhood, with a great love in their life, and ended up in a detention centre in the UK, about to be deported.’
The play features one actor on a bed of seven hundred items of clothing. Rintoul explains: ‘It represents the seven hundred men who have been executed since the invasion, but it also references holocaust. When you see an item of clothing on the street or somewhere it’s really potent because it used to belong to somebody and you ask questions... and each piece of clothing has its own story.’
Rintoul tells how he came up with the idea for the play: ‘It’s a devised piece, it’s not written, it’s sort of made. I was making another piece about migration and I came across some narratives of gay asylum seekers, mainly from Iran. I did some research and I found an article by an extraordinary photojournalist called Bradley Secker; he had interviewed gay Iraqi refugees in Syria and taken a whole load of photographs, and [the play] is inspired by those interviews and those photographs that he took.’
The play ran last year in Edinburgh and this will be its second run, however quite a bit has changed. Rintoul says he aims to shock and confront his audience, and he tells us truthfully about the effect of the play. ‘It’s very poetic and it’s very beautiful as well as being quite harrowing, and I think mostly with audiences, it takes them quite a while to talk about it.’
Yet surley that is what great theatre is all about. This play promises to both affect and enlighten its audience and will hopefully be a unique and moving piece of contemporary theatre.
Play Runs 9th Oct- 3rd Nov; Tue-Sat 7.45pm, Sun 5pm; tickets £14, concs £9; Theatre503, The Latchmere, 503 Battersea Park Road Sw11 3BW
020 7978 7040