Lebanese playwright Wajdi Mouawad tells a sad story of the civil war in his country that assumes the dimension of a Greek tragedy, atmospherically enhanced by the bricks and dampness of the Old Vic Tunnels, while the trains rumble persistently overhead.
Nawal Marwan has died and requested to be laid to rest naked with her back to the world. She leaves two letters: one for her twins’ father and one for their brother. The resolution of this riddle, and the events through which Narwal arrived at her tragic cynicism, unravel with bumpy, but never boring, inevitability.
The ghost of Nawal is beautifully played by Jennie Stoller, stamping a matriarchal, mellow-voiced authority on her younger, more impetuous other selves: Jennifer Kidd’s adventurous lover and Caroline Loncq’s vengeful activist.
Nawal was raped in prison, producing the twins who struggle confusedly in her wake, the boxer Simon (Richard Simons) and the mathematics teacher Janine (Sirine Saba).
The latter’s demonstration of a domestic polygon is typical of the sometimes banal element in Simon Scardifield’s translation, but Patricia Benecke’s production maintains a steady momentum to an impressive climax, and there are imaginative evocations of a massacre (machine-gun fire done by water sprinkler) and ceremonies of death and mourning.