My Name is Rachel Corrie is crafted from the writings of American student Rachel Corrie, edited by Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner. We are taken from her childhood bedroom in Washington State to Palestine, where she becomes part of the International Solidarity Movement to protect Palestinian houses from demolition by Israeli forces.
This is the first production by ‘Graphic’ a new company formed by Director Chelsea Gillard. The aim of the company is, we are told in the programme notes, to explore particularly visual theatre and storytelling forms. It comes as a surprise then that a piece so dense in text has been chosen as their first production.
That being said the image we are met with on entering the perfectly intimate ‘Other Room’ is striking. Rachel Corrie (Shannon Keogh) curled up, in a large chair with clothes strewn around the stage reminiscent of teenagers bedrooms the world over. The difference on this occasion is that the under the clothes, the floor is covered with dry sand.
The diamond shaped set is simple, yet elegant and has some beautiful moments to shine during the production. This is particularly true in the closing moments of the piece where sand is piled high to represent the bulldozer moving a pile of dirt, under which Rachel is buried. Sadly these visually exciting moments are too few throughout the production.
The production elements are well executed, with simple, yet effective lighting from Jai Morjaria and a well crafted soundscape by Matthew Holmquist, both of which transport the audience from a Dairy Queen on the West Coast of America, to The Gaza Strip instantaneously.
Shannon Keogh Makes her professional debut in this production, being a third year student at Trinity St David. She gives a confident performance, especially considering it is in an accent which is not her own (no mean feat for the 90 minute run time!) which she retains well throughout the piece.
This is a challenging piece of theatre which suffers from a distinct lack of variation in the pace. It feels as though once it has started it is a desperate race to the end, with little time being given to the witty jokes or the emotional moments which were sadly steamrollered over during this production.
I look forward to future productions from this company and hope they explore the visual elements of theatre which showed such promise in this piece.