'Going Through' review or 'Found in translation.'

Going Through, Estelle Savasta
Bush Theatre, 8th April 2019
Written for The Guardian 

Child migration might sound like a difficult subject, but this is a surprisingly calming and gently uplifting play. Going Through is about a deaf woman, Youmna, and her adopted daughter, Nour, who live in an unnamed but volatile country that Nour eventually leaves. Kirsten Hazel Smith has translated French playwright Estelle Savasta’s script with exquisite precision and the play is performed in English, as well as British Sign Language. This is a story that delights in language: its power, its variety and the rich sense of belonging it might bestow.
Rajha Shakiry’s poetic set feels like a memory. Crumbled up white mountains and interlocking panels form a hazy backdrop to the story of Youmna (Nadia Nadarajah) and Nour (Charmaine Wombwell). As the two sign together – and Nadarajah and Wombwell sign with such openness of spirit – their words are projected against the set. They describe their tiny but much-loved home and all the objects contained inside. Gradually, the set is filled with words and the story of their life is shaded in with shared memories and collective meaning.
Omar Elerian directs with the same fluidity and instinctive understanding he showcased with ArinzĂ© Kene’s Misty. There’s a vague sense of danger in Nour’s home country but it rarely penetrates her happy home: when the bombs fall they drop quietly against a moonlit sky. Above all, Elerian gives Nour control of her story. When the traffickers speak to Nour as she journeys dangerously across Europe, their speech is projected and their voices silenced. But Nour’s words are expressed in a kaleidoscope of meaning – with beautiful sign language, creative captions, distilled poetry, projected shadows and song.


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