As part of Tarragon Theatre's Acoustic Series
Tarragon Theatre website
Tarragon Theatre’s Acoustic Series continues with Wajdi Mouwad’s ‘Scorched’ which was originally directed by Richard Rose in 2007. The play was co-produced with Ottawa’s National Arts Centre.
Mr. Rose once again directed the production for this audio presentation. I did not have the opportunity to see ‘Scorched’ when it played in 2007 at the Tarragon so this presentation was my first introduction to the story.
I am still haunted by this stellar cast’s reading of ‘Scorched’ and its amply epic and highly emotional tale replete, at times, with a brutal cruelty. Don’t get me wrong as this is not a scathing commentary by any means. This audio presentation is memorable as its political relevance is even more noteworthy today.
The story opens in a notary’s office in Montreal of Alphonse Lebel (Alon Nashman). After the death of their mother Nawal (Bahareh Yaraghi), twins Janine (Sophie Goulet) and Simon (Sergio DiZio) want to learn more about their mother’s past and travel to an unnamed middle Eastern country where she grew up. It is in this country where Janine and Simon learn more about their mother and what she had endured in this country through war and abuse. Other individuals enter the lives of Janine and Simon as they continue to unravel the mystery of this person whom they called their mother. It is through a shocking conclusion to the story that Janine and Simon learn more about the father and brother they never knew they had.
As I listened intently to this story unfold, I kept returning to trying to understand Nawal’s actions and why she had to do what she needed to do in order to survive. Bahareh Yaraghi’s vocal work in capturing the extreme emotional pain and suffering this woman had endured was remarkably dignified. Sophie Goulet and Sergio DiZio equally and successfully matched the intensity of Ms. Yaraghi while never resorting to histrionics of any kind as that would have taken me right out of the moment. I was also keen in listening to Alon Nashman as the notary Alphonse. There were moments where I sincerely believed he did truly care about honoring the wishes of his friend and client, Nawal; nevertheless, Nashman’s voice registered periodically in several moments where I wasn’t sure whether or not I believed he upheld his client’s wishes as he should.
Thomas Ryder Payne’s sound design effectively underscored the plot’s action without ever overpowering at all. It’s a long play to listen (nearly two and a half hours), but Richard Rose’s direction of the piece was clearly envisioned as the story moved back and forth between the present and the past.
FINAL COMMENTS: At times intensely harrowing and deeply disturbing, this ‘Scorched’ blazes with searing vocal performances which cut through to the very heart of my being.
Powerful stuff. Give this a listen.
On May 20 from 7 pm – 9 pm, join Richard Rose, director of this production of ‘Scorched’, for an online talk on the process of theatre direction, focused on the text of Wajdi Mouawad's Scorched. Participants are encouraged (but not required) to prepare by listening to the Tarragon Acoustic audio production of Scorched before joining this event.
SCORCHED by Wajdi Mowad
A Tarragon Acoustic Production in association with PlayME Podcast’s Laura Mullin and Chris Tolley
Directed by Richard Rose
Sound Design by Thomas Ryder Payne
Audio production plays on the Tarragon Theatre website: www.tarragontheatre.com to May 26.
Artists: Valerie Buhagiar, Sergio DiZio, Sophie Goulet, Alon Nashman, Alex Poch-Goldin, Bahareh Yaraghi, Antoine Yared. Singer: Roula Said