Review: Outsiders, Pilot Theatre

Sara Sadeghi as Sumaya and Lou Broadbent as Marie. Photographs: Pilot Theatre / Ben Bentley
2 Oct 2015 @ 3.17 pm
| News

York, Theatre, Film & Television building, York University

Till Sat Oct 3 at 7.30 pm

£10, £8 for students and under 25s

Pilot Theatre website

Written by Emteaz Hussain, Pilot Theatre’s new production Outsiders is inspired by the untold story of the nameless Algerian victim and his sister in Albert Camus’ classic novel L’Etranger.

Taking Camus’ story in a new direction, Outsiders centres around two overlooked characters in L’Etranger, Marie and Sumaya.

“The sun was beating down on the beach. Five shots rang out and a man fell to the ground. A nameless Arab, dead.

“Many years later two women, one French, one Algerian look up at the so blue sky and wonder what really happened to their lives that day and who they and each other are now.”

Marie and Sumaya attempt to come to terms with the equally traumatic events of their past as they recall their stories to the audience.

Wholly absorbed

Not being familiar with Camus’s novel myself I was apprehensive as to whether I would be able to enjoy the play or even understand the narrative.

However, Outsiders only takes Camus’s novel as a starting point for the premise of the story and I was able to become wholly absorbed into the women’s interwoven experiences.

A poignant yet frustrating relationship
A poignant yet frustrating relationship

The most frustrating yet poignant aspect of the piece is the characters’ hatred for one another – and their failure to recognise the similarity of their devastating circumstances.

Whilst it is painfully clear that Marie and Sumaya should form an alliance, they continue to blame the each other and the schism that divides their two cultures deepens.

With the current events unfolding in Europe, claims to land, ownership and notions of outsiders takes on a deeper significance.

Compelling performances

Lou Broadbent as the prim and proper Frenchwoman Marie, and Sara Sadeghi as feisty Algerian Sumaya, are both captivating throughout this short yet emotionally intense piece.

Their characters clash as they justify their claims to the audience who are left to the impossible task of passing judgement.

From compelling performances to imaginative set design, the play is beautifully crafted. The set evokes a timeless yet claustrophobic place as the two women are condemned to a life in limbo.

Fragments of memories surround them and these seemingly random props gradually gain significance as the story unfolds.

Opening with a sequence of the shadow cast by Marie’s agitated silhouette through a paper screen next to Sumaya’s equally restless figure in the foreground, themes of doubleness and circularity neatly structure the play.

As well as addressing social, political and cultural differences, Emteaz Hussain has given face to two overlooked women. Outsiders takes its audience on a journey through the personal dramas of Marie’s and Sumaya’s experiences in director Fraser Corfield’s thought-provoking production.