Plan D @ Tristan Bates Theatre, London

cast list
Amira Ghazalla, Loukia Pierides, George Couyas and Houda Echouafni

directed by
Chris White
Hannah Khalils Plan D is based on oral testimonies from both Palestinians and Israelis who lived through the 1948 war, although the playwright stresses that the story has a universal quality and could be set in other times and places.

A family, who are only ever referred to by their relationship to one another (as mother, father, daughter and so on), live a happy but simple existence in a small rural village.

Their happiness is disrupted when a cousin comes to visit bringing news of ‘them’ – the people who have invaded his home town.
Fearing for their lives the family flee to the woods where they believe they will be safe from the invaders, though they are now at the mercy of wild animals.

Plan D – the title refers to the plan to force Palestinians from their homes in order to make way for the Israeli settlers – is an emotive and effective drama that focuses on the human consequences of war rather than its politics. Khalil really makes you think about what it means to have to leave behind everything you know and love in order to stay alive. But her attempts to make this family and their plight universal isnt entirely successful as, at times, the lack of specifics makes it difficult to fully connect with the characters.

A lack of dramatic tension is another issue that makes it hard to get fully involved in Chris White’s production. The pacing was, at times, sluggish and in serious need of pepping up.

Out of the seven-man cast, two performances really stood out; Loukia Pierides as the Daughter and Amira Ghazalla as the Grandmother. Pierides captured the mannerisms and optimism of an eight-year-old girl while Ghazalla was equally strong in portraying the warmth, strength and courage of a woman who had experienced much pain in her life.

Plan D has good intentions and works as a piece of theatre, but only up to a point. There’s a lot to be said for the way Khalil concentrates on the personal over the political, however the play is undermined by the constraints she has chosen and in purposefully avoiding specificity it ends up working against itself.

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