My Name is Rachel Corrie / PuSh International Performing Arts Festival

Dates and VenueDates and Venue 25 January 2 February 2008 (preview 24 January ) @ 8pm and 5 9 February 9.30pm with Fridays and Saturdays at 7pm and 9pm | Havana Theatre

Reviewer Ed Farolan

This was an extraordinarily excellent show by the Neworld Theatre Company, with a very fine actress, Adrienne Wong, playing Rachel/Narrator. I normally don't enjoy long one-person shows, but this one was particularly well-executed.

Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner did a great job editing the writings of Rachel Corrie, and director Sarah Garton Stanley's concept of theatre-in-the-round in Havana's black box was quite innovative. No wonder the show was extended for another week with sold-out houses.

Martyr or fool is the theme of this play. What is it about youth and the zeal for idealism? Or is it just the bourgeois boredom that gets young college students risking their lives and dying senseless deaths in the name of truth, justice, and peace?

It's almost the same questions asked about Jesus Christ and other revolutionaries like Che Guevara who gave their lives to try to save humanity. And so we see here another example of either idiocy or martyrdom or both.

Wong was indeed engaging in her performance. Even before the play started, she greeted audience members and welcomed them to the show. In her 90-minute monologue, there was no trace of nervousness in the delivery of her lines. She was natural, relaxed, and, verily, I witnessed talent in this young thespian.

The set designed by Ana Capelluto was symbolic of today's high tech. White monitors surrounded the venue with projections of internet sites depicting Rachel's plight. Rachel's Apple notebook was a central prop, as she would send messages to her mom, and we would see her face on the monitor through the laptop's camera. Lighting Design by Itai Erdal and Sound Effects by Peter Cerone under Technical Director Jody Burkholder were well-timed.

The floor was a white square where in one scene, a message of Rachel to her mom was projected. In another monitor, on two walls of the set, another member of the international peace group that went to Palestine in the early months of 2003 recounted the death of Rachel by an Israeli bulldozer depicting bloody pictures of her death.

But the most touching scene was the end of the play. Wong, with anger and close to tears, questioned the killing and maiming of Palestinians by Israeli missiles, tanks, planes, and bulldozers. And what choked the audience was the final video of young Rachel, perhaps 8 or 9 years old, already politically polarized and talking to an audience about her dreams of peace for all of humanity.

© 2008 Ed Farolan