Gaza beach: Sea Side resort of the Promised Land. We hope you enjoy your stay. Our primary export is misery and we’d advise you to watch out for the ship we call ‘the kicker’ patrolling a few kilometres of shore.
It’s refreshing to see, for such a touchy subject, that ‘Go to Gaza’ isn’t frightened to flirt with juxtaposing dark humour with a contemporary human tragedy. It gives the theme of the play a more plausible and human side, something which many of the more preachy performances fail to do.
Life in Gaza during the brief war of 2009 is depicted from the perspective of those on the receiving end of the Israeli bombardment and ground offensive. The often warped attitudes to the threat of death which surrounds such events is considered. A girl whose brother has gone missing, for example, continues to dance to her music. When asked by her mother to stop, unperturbed she continues, asking her ‘do we have to live like the dead?’ Interestingly an almost identical line is spoken in the 1987 film about the Holocaust, ‘Escape from Sobibor’. Clearly a close proximity to death can produce some interesting ideas about life and how it should be lived.
Perhaps not unsurprisingly for a play created over a three-week stint in January of 2009 in direct response to the Israeli invasion, the play is blinded by the immediacy and the individual tragedies of the event. Blinded at least in its ability to convey an objective analysis of a conflict which can clearly not be viewed wholly from one side of the fence. It is telling, for example that of the single Israeli character in the play, she too is opposed to the Israeli army and sees them in as scathing a light as the Palestinians. Israeli soldiers are only mentioned while eating chocolate and chips and shooting at innocent children.
Conversely, of course, the very fact that the writers have presented the immediacy and humanity of being caught up in the conflict – whatever the larger issues - is in many ways a laudable pursuit. Yet to combine this documentary immediacy and human tragedy with any comments on the wider situation can only result in a clumsy attempt to extrapolate from individual experience. Clearly there are problems in personalising such a complex conflict.
A well acted and produced play, which suffers from its singular focus on the perceived inhumanity and brutality of the Israeli state in dealing with Gaza.
* * *