Wipe These Tears, Camden People’s Theatre

by Laura Kressly

Operation Desert Storm. An English primary school. Guantanamo Bay. The Green Zone. A village in Afghanistan. These are some of the places where writer Sînziana Cojocărescu situates individual stories of colonisation and oppression. Informed by interviews with over 90 people involved in or survivors of war and conflict, as well as activists and researchers, the resulting collage of violence forces audiences to reckon with white western imperialism.

Cojocărescu and the ensemble of five women don’t sanitise these encounters between the oppressed and their oppressors, but nor do they aim to realistically depict them. Video, music and cross-gender performance, as well as the montage style, effectively support critique rather than suspension of disbelief. Though the acting style is largely reminiscent of real life at the beginning, it slowly shifts towards the symbolic over the course of the first story about a teacher referring a child to the police following the possibility that the student holds ‘extremist views’. Violence also becomes more overt; initial concern in the gateway to assault and humiliation. It’s shocking stuff, yet the torture and abuse techniques are recognisable.

However, some of the transitions in the earlier part of the show aren’t as clear as they are later, so some of these individual stories bleed into each other. This is confusing at first, and only becomes apparent once a change is time and place is clearly shared and the format of the production is established. The use of live feed and pre-recorded video also support differentiating different stories as well as convey universality – oppression happens everywhere, in all times and across all mediums.

The production has a scrappiness that effectively captures resistance against oppression, though some trimming of the script would make this focus sharper. However, the cast drive through some of the more static moments. Their consistently strong and committed performances are a highlight of this unapologetic confrontation with state-sanctioned violence, and a celebration of those who fight it.

Wipe These Tears runs through 22 October.

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.

One thought on “Wipe These Tears, Camden People’s Theatre

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s