Writer: Hekate Papadaki
Director: Lucy Allan
Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
‘The Interpreter, Home’ has all the essential elements for a compelling drama: an indomitable heroine on a quest to rectify injustice. But the need to communicate essential background information to the audience means that fascinating concepts are skimmed rather than explored.
Hevi (Hilly Barber), a survivor of the 1989 Kurdish genocide, falls into clinical depression after the death of her husband. She is institutionalised for two decades until student translator Nalin (Jade Greyul) realises Hevi is incommunicative because the authorities have been addressing her in the wrong language. Although Nalin has no interest in the history of her own family she investigates why Hevi has been abandoned by her community.
Because of the sheer volume of information and the brevity of the play writer Hekate Papadaki is often limited to describing, rather than showing, events. We get no sense of the reported tensions between the Kurdish tribes that may have resulted in Hevi’s abandonment and no reason is given for Nalin’s antipathy to her own family. The cast are able to fill some of the gaps. Alice Brockway’s painted on smile and edgy mannerisms show the strain felt by Dr. Parry working in a health service so under- resourced patients lose their dignity.
Although director Lucy Allan is able to convey all the necessary information with clarity the limited running time prevents her from establishing a suitable atmosphere. It is hard to understand how it feels to be dispossessed or hurt so deeply that it is easier to cut off a valued member of your community than be reminded of the past. Despite the limitations Allan is able to deliver vivid characters who do far more than just offer Nalin directions on her journey.
Jade Greyul who plays Nalin has recently graduated from Manchester University. If she wasn’t top of the class I’d like to meet whoever was as her performance is extraordinary. Rather than portray Nalin as a narrow – minded obsessive her empathetic interpretation shows the motivation is simple compassion. Refreshingly Nalin is not infallible and drops some tremendous clangers all reflected in Greyul’s expressive face.
The success of ‘The Interpreter, Home’ in telling a powerful and moving story is limited only by the scant duration of the play rather than the talents of those involved.