Mayfesto: HEART @ The Tron
ZENDEH's latest production, HEART tries to tackle two themes at the same time: the love triangle between an Iranian woman, a Syrian man and an English man, and the revolution in Iran of the 1950s. Leili (Serena Manteghi) falls for the poet Kais (Tarrick Benham), but has to leave Iran because of his growing fame and obsession. Shortly after, once in Durham, she meets charming older man Arthur (Matt Jamie), and marries him. When Arthur gets posted to Tehran on "business," the plot unravels.
The lines between the characters and their respective countries are clear, perhaps too clear. It is obvious when the characters switch back and forth between the personal narrative, and the grander, more symbolic one. Even so, the play becomes burdened with repetition of facts, phrases, and symbols, including a pomegranate, and the sleeping pills Leili was given by her doctor ("I like to know I have the option..."). The long speeches seem to slow down the action a great deal, losing any sense of tension. Also, it seems bizarre to hear Leili speak on behalf of the Iranian people. While her national identity is not in question, the fact that she would take responsibility for her countrymen and countrywomen seems out of place, especially when a great deal of the time, she and the other two characters seem to be doing what is expected of them rather than taking control of their own actions like Leili does at the end.
Overall, HEART seems an intelligent production, and although it seems to drag on towards the end, the story is captivating of its own accord. Although it does occasionally seem to get bogged down by politics, the simplicity of the symbolism allows for the tale to be interpreted on many levels – both personal and political. [Eric Karoulla]