April 25, 2014
Bombs, killers, and soldiers. A war torn country is certainly no fun place to live. The horror of those living in such places is the setting for Mohamed Kacimi’s drama, Holy Land. How can a family survive these tumultuous conditions? Kacimi’s work has potential to shed light on this unimaginably tenuous situation, but in its current state, it is too disjointed and confusing to allow us to fully enter this world.
The play opens with an ethnic family, struggling to survive the soldiers, who barge in at any moment without warning, and the hell of war. Imen, a young woman, is quick with her tongue and it seems to get her into trouble. She is burst in upon by an enemy soldier. We quickly find out that Imen has a cat, named Jesus, for who she cares a lot about. The father, Yad, returns home and is obviously in a panic and needs alcohol to calm his nerves. He is the most developed and defined character, but he seems a little farcical at times.The soldier, Ian, barges in again and has a breakdown of some sort based on what he sees on television. Then, strangely, Amin, the brother bursts Ian and drops the T.V out the window and kills a soldier. He obviously believes in his religious doctrine that promises him that he’ll go to heaven for his murder. Then, in a bizarre moment, he rapes his sister and is caught by the father who kills him. If the plot seems a little ambiguous, it is because we are not exactly sure what is happening at every turn in the play.
As I mentioned above, Kacimi’s work is too disjointed and hap-hazard feeling to have the intended impact that I think he is anticipating. It’s a little all over the place and the characters seem to be acting in a vacuum. None of them seem to be in the same world. The language is very redundant and more poetic than dramatic. This makes it hard for the actors to have dramatic tension and action to play with. Yad, played by Jojo Gonzalez, is the most interesting to watch. His need for escape, if only a mental one, is palpable. Although, he has great comic timing his energy can be a little too frenetic and make him seem over-the-top. Still, he is by far, the most interesting to watch. The actors do their best to fix the disjointedness, but they can only cover up so much.
Kacimi’s relationships are not well-defined. In the program, it tells us that Imen and Aminare not related. Yet, this production makes it seem like they are, which adds a whole other dimension to the rape scene. I believe the inconsistent use of pronouns adds to our confusion. I heard audience member’s whisper their uncertainty and dismay at certain moments. I hope Kacimi will continue to work on Holy Land. It is needed in today’s problematic war happy world. There is real potential here, but it needs to be polished up and clarified in order to deliver the full impact of its message.
Holy Land is presented by 3rd Kulture Kids and The Sublet Series at HERE Arts Center, 145 6th Ave. Playing now through May 10, 2014. http://www.here.org