The Other Side

The Other Side
Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14)
3 stars ***

BACK IN 200, an Israeli woman picked up the phone to call a friend, and accidentally dialled a wrong number.   The voice that answered belonged to a Palestininian refugee, someone on the “other side” of the Israel-Palestine conflict; and so began an extraordinary peacemaking initiative, in which people on both sides were simply encouraged to talk to one another on the telephone, to meet as friends if that ever seemed possible, and to start to build the kind of personal knowledge and links that make conflict less likely, and peace more possible.

This gentle show by the Scene Company of Wokingham tells the story of this growing peace movement, which has already been the subject of a memorable BBC radio drama.   It can’t be said that The Other Side makes a thrilling piece of theatre.  In the effort to create a stage version of the tale, Gavin Robertson and his company move simple costume-rails around the stage for ages between scenes, as if they had commissioned too much incidental music, and had to find something to do while it plays; and the acting – by a company of three who have to double and treble their roles – sometimes has a slightly desperate, hat-changing look about it.  But the strength of the story comes through, nonetheless; along with the simple truth that people are people, and that however narcissistic and vicious we become about our small differences, when it comes to the great emotions of life – love, loss, anger, endurance, and pleasure in the beauty of things – we are all brothers and sisters, under the skin.

Joyce McMillan
Until 31 August
p. 218


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