My Name is Rachel Corrie – New Theatre – Review
Until July 8th
Rachel Corrie was born in Washington in 1979. She was a free spirit, a girl who had no idea what she wanted to be when she grew up and was passionate about a thousand things at once. Years later, when she was in college she decided to travel to Gaza as part of her senior-year college assignment. The things she saw there changed her and she slowly embraced the plight of the Palestinian people. However, the consequences of this simple decision were tragic.
Throughout her life she kept journals and diaries detailing her thoughts and hopes. This play is based on those diaries, along with the emails she sent her family and friends while living in Gaza. These were edited by Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner, who took the essential elements and turned it into a piece of documentary theatre. It was first performed in the Royal Court Theatre, London in 2005 and went on to win the Theatregoers’ Choice Awards for Best Director and Best New Play.
The play is a one woman show with Shannon Ferber acting out elements of Rachel’s life. The set is a number of upturned crates, daubed with red paint. The only other elements that Shannon has on stage with her are a few photos pinned to the walls, a rucksack and the diaries and journals, which she leafs through and reads from.
Shannon does very well and remains focused, rarely lapsing during the 80 minute performance. It is always impressive for a solo performer to hold an audience for that duration and she makes it look easy. The only complaint would be that she fails to draw the humour out of the early elements of the story, but she easily captures the intensity and passion of Rachel’s later years. Some elements of the story particularly resonate, with Muslims opening their homes and sharing their food with the young American, asking her to tell the people at home that there are good Muslims! The play is obviously a polemic and has a strong point of view it aims to get across. It tries to capture various elements of Rachel’s life and show how easily she became part of the movement, working with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in Gaza. It is a thought provoking and consciousness raising piece that will resonate with many viewers.
Featuring Shannon Ferber
Directed by Megan Carney
Produced by Ailish Toal
Lighting design – Matthew Jones
Sound design/visual design – Seán O’Neill
Stage manager – Megan Lynch
Production (set) managers – Sean MacDhonnagáin and Joe Murphy
Find out about Rachel Corrie here.