'Keepsake' at Old Red Lion Theatre

  • Theatre
'Keepsake' at Old Red Lion Theatre


Thu, 16/01/2014 - 13:18


Dilek Rose as Abra in 'Keepsake'
Dilek Rose as Abra in 'Keepsake'
16 January, 2014

GREGORY Beam’s Keepsake takes a sentimental look at the lives of two sisters, brought together by the death of their father.

Abra and her adopted sister Samara represent two sides of the contemporary Muslim female within young America; the former is a clean-cut and endearingly conservative young woman whose traditional views stand in opposition to the latter’s liberal views on sex and alcohol.

This confrontation provides plenty of witty dialogue and moments of genuine sororal endearment.

The play, however, is problematic, and leaves a lot to be desired. The most prominent of which is that neither sister shows any real emotional engagement of the sort one might expect following the death of a parent. Necessary moments of exposition rely on clichés in order to be woven into the narrative. And, most importantly, it takes an entire act for anything to really happen – the only inciting incident happens just before the interval. The purpose of the first act seems only to set up the second.

But there are moments of genuine genius within Keepsake. Allon Sylvain’s portrayal of Yassir, the girls’ father, is truly touching. He’s a man with severe mental illness who finds an abandoned baby and is bound by his religious views, and his compassion, to bring her up as his own. Such a character has more dramatic potential than any writer could ever ask for, yet Yassir is tucked away into the corner, with only a few moments of stage-time.

Director Sean Martin’s use of time-shifting and interweaving of past and present is the play’s most beautiful aspect, alongside the eerie decision to multi-role Abra with her mother, Safweh.

Although the narrative leaves its audience wanting more, there are moments of quality that make Keepsake worth seeing.

It goes without saying that those with an interest in the issues tackled by the play will find it particularly engaging.

Until January 25
0844 412 4307

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