Review | Passing is a poignant and evocative debut show

Passing | The Shambles | til February 3rd | ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Fringe World 2018 has well and truly begun, with buildings across the city boasting pink bunting and loud music pumping from basements. Passing, nestled in The Shambles in Fringe Central, stands out from its Fringe counterparts with its daringly introspective attitude towards the Muslim faith, Algeria, family and bisexuality. It explores these with great insight and performance.

Performed by Sahra Hamadi, and directed by Angela Donlan, whom OUTInPerth spoke to recently, Passing is a show of overcoming odds, prejudice and finding your own identity.

Passing focuses on the character of 18 year old Sara, who throughout her life has faced the challenge of trying to find her place in Muslim culture, whilst confronting the differences between her beliefs, and her religion. It all becomes harder once Sara gets a girlfriend.

For the audience, the show leaves the powerful impression of identity, and how hard it is to fit into just one. This appears purposeful, as the audience is invited after the show to engage in conversation with the performer; an unusual choice that reinforces the idea that the show is cathartic for not only performer, but also audience.

A striking choice of the show is the sparseness of the set, which becomes a vital tool in the way in which the show leaps from scene to scene without particular need of linear action.  Considering the bare bones venue, the vivid way in which the space was transformed by the presence of the performer is something that Sahra Hamadi is to be congratulated for.

The solo performance by Hamadi is the stand out aspect of the show. A combination of  personal monologues, emotional interactions and insightful dialogue allows for a show that jumps around in time, brings tears to the audiences eyes, and plays to the performers strengths, all to great effect.

The show doesn’t have the glitz and glam that fringe shows can often attract, however its honest and heart wrenching look at Sara’s life, and all that it entails, paints a poignant picture that would only be marred by the extravagant lighting and sound found at larger venues and productions.

By creating a show that spun so many threads with distinctly different narratives, the creative forces behind the show were able to create a show that was entirely varied in the ideas explored whilst also being entirely consistent in tone.

That tone, swinging from sad and insightful to exubilant and joyful, helped propel the slower scenes in the show. As with many Fringe shows that have their world premiere during the festival, the show would benefit from polish around the edges, but it is rare to find a debut show that is perfect.

Finally, the show was confronting; both literally and figuratively. As it went from the performer approaching audience members, to the telling of the heartbreaking stories of the Algerian civil war, the show invited the audience to comfront ideals that they might have been holding without realising it.

Altogether it was a moving, emotional and touching debut show.

Oh, and the bread was delicious. Go see Passing before it leaves this Saturday, 3rd of February. 

Davis Burke 


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