by Paula Citron.
Traverse Theatre Company (Scotland)
Written by David Greig
Directed by Phillip Howard
Starring Nathlie Armin, Ewen Bremner, Alex Elliott, Dolya Gavanski and Khalid Laith
At Premier Dance Theatre
Harbourfront’s Worldstage presented Scotland’s Traverse Theatre Company which has a legendary reputation. The play was David Greig’s Damascus, and, unfortunately, it was a mixed blessing. The collision of cultures that Grieg sets up is a Scottish writer of English as a second language books who goes to Damascus to sell his product.
Paul (played by Ewen Bremner who didn’t speak loudly enough), meets with Muna (Nathalie Armin) and Wasim (Alex Elliott). Wasim doesn’t speak English and so we hear his conversations with Muna that Paul doesn’t understand. There is also Zacharias, the hotel bell boy (Kahlid Laith) who wants Paul to help him meet easy Western girls, and the cocktail pianist Elena (Dolya Gavanski), a Ukrainian transgendered former man who functions as a Greek chorus.
The first act was terrific, setting up all kinds of provocative dynamics, but the second act collapsed because Grieg didn’t know where to take it. The cast was fine but was plagued by missed dialogue.