Writers: Simon Day and Martin Bonger
Director: Simon Day
Reviewer: Glen Pearce
Afghanistan – a complex land full of different tribes, a rich history now scarred by conflict. It is this mix that has a huge impact on Richie, whose childhood experiences in the country still haunt him well into adulthood back in his native America.
Based on true stories, Martin Bonger plays Richie as an enigmatic storyteller, guiding us through this ever-shifting landscape. It’s a story full of imagery, the dusty rubble resonant of the Afghan desert, the costume a mix of American corporate dress combined with Afghan prayer shirt.
The symbolism counterbalances an increasingly disturbed Richie. As world events shape his beloved land, the delicate flower garlands become symbols for the planes used to bring down the twin towers on 9/11, the resulting military intervention providing, ironically, the perfect soil structure to grow opium poppies.
It’s a tale and a performance full of twist and those twists make it difficult at times to follow the narrative, we can admire the performance and the visual imagery but the complexity of the tale leaves us lost in the desert.
While impressive on the eye, one can’t help feeling that some of the visual symbolism detracts rather than aids. A large fish tank that is eventually filled with coloured dye seems superfluous and the frequent use of a baseball bat seems to be a heavy-handed approach to symbolise the American psyche.
There is a lot to admire here but without having read the source material it is often an admiration of Bonger’s performance, rather than an appreciation of dramatic storytelling.
Reviewed on 9 June 2017 | Image: Contributed
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