By Karen Bryson
The Park Theatre welcomes the revival of Warde Street after a successful run at The Tristan Bates Theatre last year. This felt like the perfect place to tell this story as it sits less than 200 metres away from Finsbury Park Tube Station which serves the Piccadilly Line. The play centres around a fictional street and characters, based on the pervasive effects of the very real and tragic events of 7/7 in 2005, where 52 people lost their lives and many more injured, physically and psychologically. Hate and blame were directed towards the Muslim community nationwide after the bombings, leading to more innocent people suffering, through acts of anger, revenge and resentment. Warde Street explores exactly that.
This skillfully penned piece is by Damien Tracey (who also stepped in at the last minute to play David). It’s produced by ‘Scéalta Móra’ which translates as ‘Big Stories’, and Warde Street is certainly a big story…
It’s a play of two acts, the first starts post dinner party at Samiya’s (Avita Jay) flat as she struggles to see why her lover and politician David, flatly refuses to be a character witness at her brother Ashfaq trial. He is being accused of killing the man who is believed to have shot his his wife. All on one fateful night in Ash’s shop in Manchester. Without David’s testimony her brother Ash will certainly be sent to jail. It is at this point an anxious Ash (Omar Ibrahim) enters, demanding an explanation as to why David will not take the stand in his defence. A heated discussion ensues about the details of that night and Ash’s innocence is put into question. With quick, clever dialogue and moments of well needed humour the first half goes at a pace.
The second act is where the play comes into its own, it delves deep into loss, blame, revenge, forgiveness and grief.
We go back in time to the night that led to the two deaths. Eddie (Shane Noone) an old friend of Ash, breaks into the shop Ash owns with his wife Yasmeena (Maya Saroya). Highly charged, drunk and armed with a gun. Eddie is a man on a mission. His mission is revenge; to lash out. Quickly we realise Eddie is a broken man, who lost is wife and unborn child in the horrific bombings in 2005. He is battling with grief as his life has continued to spiral out of control. He needs something, someone to focus his immense pain, that person is Ash and his family. The unwelcome visit soon turns into a hostage situation, with impassioned exchanges; Eddie’s confused, misplaced despair and Ash’s justification of his beliefs. To add to an already fraught, nail biting situation an unwitting Yasmeenah enters at the wrong time and ends up being killed. From this point on, it’s real edge of your seat viewing, until the plays ambiguous conclusion.
The arguments being bought up, and captivating performances evokes feelings of the devastation of that day in 2005 and it’s permeating effect. The play cleverly doesn’t seem to take sides, or place blame it simply requires the audience to think and feel. With clean direction (Jenny Eastop) and a no fuss set, this really becomes about the story. It throws up the interesting conflicts between heart and head, right and wrong and the grey area in between. Totally engaging, thought provoking theatre, with an ending I won’t reveal, but I will say there was an audible gasp.
Warde Street continues at The Park Theatre until 26 October 2014