Hanan Al-Haj, a Lebanese woman in her fifties, dreams of being a great actor on her morning runs through Beirut. She also reflects on her relationship with her faith, her husband and her country. She contemplates the great Greek roles she longs to play. Medea is at the forefront her thoughts. Where are the Medeas in Beirut? Who are the women so oppressed by the patriarchy that they commit what may be the greatest offence of a mother?
She shares stories of other Lebanese women, of refugees, and of mothers who’ve lost their children to war. It’s chilling to contemplate the meaning of these being the Medeas of our modern age.
This quiet, reflective piece has a loose structure and takes too much time to get to the core of the work, but the meandering introduction still has resonance. Totally out of character, Al-Haj explains that her crew were denied visas due to their Syrian passports. On arriving in Edinburgh, she had to find a new team, and they had four hours in which to learn her show.
This in and of itself is a performative, political statement and choosing to make it, though disruptive to the piece as a whole, has a lot of power. Though in need of further structural work to focus the piece, it has a lot of weighty layers. Most prominently, it presents middle-aged female sexuality without apology, and the relationship women have with their husbands, their faith and their homelands. Despite the loose narrative, these thematic takeaways have a lot of impact.