Reviewer: David Doyle
Nasi Voutsas and Bertrand Lesca have returned to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe following the success of Eurohouse last year. That production explored the making and unmaking of the European Union in the wake of austerity and the fracturing of the European project. This year their performance is no less ambitious as they turn their attention to the making and unmaking of a civilisation.
The Palmyra of the title is the now infamous site in Syria that changed hands several times during the course of the civil war. While under Islamic State control the ancient monuments on the site were destroyed and that destruction and subsequent restoration is a backdrop against which this show explores wider themes of revenge, barbarity, and complicity.
While the show never makes explicit reference to Syria beyond its title, Lesca and Voutsas explore the conflict, which is one of the dominant themes of this year’s Fringe, in an insightful manner. They manage to offer some challenging and unsettling insights, particularly in relation to society’s complicity in events. A scene in which an audience member (in this instance this reviewer) is forced to pick a side offers a really challenging moment that allows for a moment of deep reflection on our own complicity in events.
The show’s focus on broader issues emerging from Syria is its great strength. Challenging the audience constantly on our role in the conflict from spectators to global influencers, the piece covers a great amount in under an hour. While not all elements of the piece quite find their mark, there is more than enough that does. Much like their previous work, the show focuses on fracturing and leaves the audience with an important question to ponder about if something is broken, can it really ever be restored to what it once was?
Runs until 13 August 2017 | Image: Contributed