DramaNorth East & YorkshireReview

Unnatural Cycles: A Ghost Story – Theatre Deli, Sheffield

Reviewer: Sheila Stratford

Writer: Avital Raz

Director: Gillian Lees

Unnatural Cycles – A Ghost Story is Avital Raz’s difficult, personal story that she shares through drama, accompanied by live looped audio, film and song.

It is a one act solo performance in which she has a conversation with her deceased grandmother attempting to reconcile past traumas and differences. It contains strong language and upsetting content including rape, miscarriage and is particularly poignant in this time of war.

The very difficult subject of Avital’s infertility and miscarriages are faced with raw honesty. She shares her disappointment and anger and talks about the issue openly. But she also manages to bring some humour into her situation.

In meetings with her grandmother’s ghost, Avital draws on the experiences of her grandmother who was the sole family survivor of the Jewish Holocaust. Her grandmother left cassette recordings that Avital used in writing the drama. Her grandmother was a difficult, critical woman who Avital portrays as being unable to rest, still haunted by the past.

This was Avital’s eleventh performance of Unnatural Cycles – A Ghost Story and she admits probably her last. In the after-show question and answer session she admits that each performance has been a trial to perform. The story is so powerful and harrowing.

Avital accompanies her story with beautiful, haunting songs. The looped audio and video add greatly to the story with some amazing footage and repeated loops. It gives the audience a chance to reflect and enhances the mood of the situation.

There is symbolism in the performance that is not always easy to interpret but this does not detract and allows the audience to take from it what they will. A knowledge of the Jewish faith will enrich the interpretation of the performance.

It has been developed by Sheffield Theatres, Lancaster Arts and Contact.

Gillian Lees has directed a fine performance by the outstanding Avital Raz.

Theatre Deli is a great venue for alternative theatre and is supported by the Arts Council, England.

Reviewed on 18 November 2023

The Reviews Hub Score

Powerful and Raw

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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