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Edinburgh Fringe 2022

A Sudden Violent Burst of Rain

Paines Plough, Rose Theatre

Genre: Drama, New Writing, Physical Theatre

Venue: Summerhall


Low Down

When Elif leaves her own country to seek sanctuary, she encounters an increasing hostile environment in a strange once upon a time land that mirrors our own immigration system


Fairy tales are stories of growing up, of adventures, of parents and children but they have a darker, crueller side. Initially a fairy tale seems an unlikely vehicle for exploring how people are impacted by the immigration system, but A Sudden Violent Burst of Rain uses the form brilliantly to expose the absurdity and inhumanity of the hostile environment. Award winning playwright, Sami Ibrahim (Two Palestinians go Dogging) has written a fairy tale for our times, a poetic fable about the immigration system.

A joint production by Paines Plough and Rose Theatre, it’s performed  in the round in Paines Plough’s beautiful space, Roundabout at Summerhall, by a three strong ensemble of Sara Hazemi, Princess Khumalo and Samuel Tracy and directed by Yasmin Hafesji (The Maladies).

The play opens with Elif (Sarah Hazemi) tending sheep for a rich landowner. Time and place are unfixed giving the piece a fabulistic feel. The three actors initially story tell, jumping in to finish each other’s lines and dashing from one side of the stage to another. The story takes form with the actors becoming more fixed characters, though still stepping back at times to narrate the story adding the distance which emphasises the cruel absurdity of the system.

Elif’s journey starts as a poor rural idyll, dependent on the whim of the rich landowner, and going to the city to queue at the gates of the king to seek citizenship. When she becomes pregnant with the baby of the landowner’s son (Samuel Tracy), she is brushed aside and eventually has to flee. A single mother, alone in a strange land, she works endlessly at multiple jobs just to survive. Her daughter, Lily (Princess Kumalo), becomes an increasingly dissatisfied teenager, oblivious of what her mother is going through and what she has to protect her from. For Elif it’s a life of endless work, worry and waiting. And then as Lily herself becomes 18, she too becomes prey to the labyrinthine complexities of the asylum system. The three actors interact, all performing well and in harmony, as an ensemble.

The round stage is used to great effect with the tale told from centre and sides. Lighting is simple but effective. The use of props is superb – there are beautiful visuals with the use of balloons, toy buildings and feathers developing the play’s fairy tale feel.

Increasingly the gap between the fairy tale telling and the bitter reality puts the absurdity and cruelty of our immigration system into harsh perspective. This tale of uncertainty and interminable working and waiting is only too real for many people caught up in the vagaries of our immigration system – and fairy tale endings are all too rare.