Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mush and Me

Mush and Me – Karla Chrome
Holden St Theatres’ The Arch, Sat Feb 14



Mush and Me was handpicked by Holden St Theatres to be part of their 2015 Fringe program, and it’s easy to see why. Gabby and Mush(taq) meet on neutral ground in an English call centre. The company’s star performers in telephone sales are drawn to each other as they observe each other in action. Their good natured competitive relationship quickly becomes social and despite the cultural and religious gap between them they find themselves falling love. 

Provoking and challenging each other about the foolishness of their respective beliefs just brings them closer, and the time arrives when they have to confront whether to announce their romance with their families. The scene that has both of them coming out to their families simultaneously is beautifully crafted. 

The difficulties of their cross-cultural relationship are a microcosm of what divides Arabic and Jewish culture. No matter how great their affection for each other layers of past hurt and suspicion complicate their present. ‘Enough of the past” Mush cries out to his mother - desperate for her to understand that not all Jews are wicked.

The obvious attraction between to the two protagonists is beautifully played by Daniella Isaacs  and Jaz Deol, and moments of passionate disagreement and anger typical of Middle Eastern discourse about ‘the problem’ are equally powerful.

A simple and effective set of white shelves displaying icons of both Muslim and Jewish culture are manoeuvred around the stage to accommodate the call centre, a bar, a hospital and lounge room, and at times has both actors pushing shelves together in the dark during scene changes that is neatly symbolic of them growing closer together.

Given the state of the world and the role of their respective cultures in global politics, this is a timely offering. We can enjoy the fact that at least two people have decided to ditch the hatred and pain of the past between their peoples and focus on their mutual love in the present. But we are left with no illusion that it will be an easy road for them.

A great play – excellent writing, well-paced, striking delivery and smart direction.

(Also published on The Clothesline)

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