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Habibi Problem – Lowry Theatre, Salford

Director &Choreographer: Helene Weinzierl

Reviewer: Iain Sykes


Habibi Problem, from Austrian dance company cieLaroque, tells the tale of two homosexual adolescents on the run to Europe from their Iranian home and the struggles which they face, one who makes it to Europe and one detained back in Iran.

The piece, despite being about the struggles of two people, is effectively a one man movement show. Johannes Stockinger’s stage set comprises a simple jail cell of table, chair and bed in the forefront and a three part, split screen over the back of the stage with Markus Huber and Petra Hinterberger’s effective video and animations telling the tale of the other character’s bid for freedom. This device for telling the two stories at once works superbly well throughout the fifty minutes of the piece.

In the foreground, the attention is held by dancer Juraj Korec and Helene Weinzierl’s choreography. Taking the audience on a daily trail through the increasingly persecuted life of the teenager, the sharply observed movement and choreography draw the viewer in to the daily routine of watching the traffic go by through the bars of the cell, the excitement of a passing train, the boredom of reading, eating and sleeping in the prison. It’s the sadly dramatic ending after the routine of jail life that brings the biggest and most effective shock of the piece.

Habibi Problem provides an effective and brutal shock to the system about the repression of and the attitudes towards homosexuality in certain parts of the world. The individual in jail is the representation of the victims of the repression, the interpretation of the experience through this modern dance piece proved both moving and shocking.

Reviewed on 15th November 2012

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