Manchester Theatre Awards

> Independent informed reviews by the region’s most experienced critics

The Interpreter, Home

Hekate Papadaki
House Of Orphans
24:7 Elphick Stage, New Century House
21 July 2012 to 27 July 2012

In a 24:7 festival unexpectedly full of hard-hitting tales, Hekate Papadiki's enthralling play stands out both for its open-hearted compassion and for the way it structures its narrative into a compelling mystery.

For the twenty years since the death of her husband, Hevi (Hilly Barber) has been effectively incarcerated in a mental health institution, obsessively moving furniture around and repeating one word over and over - a word that none of the staff can understand. In one last effort to communicate with her, a new administrator Dr. Parry (Alice Brockway) calls on an inexperienced student Nalin (Jade Greyul) to take over as interpreter. Despite her lack of training, Nalin immediately recognises that Hevi is speaking Kurdish, realises that she is asking "where?", and grasps that the reasons why she seems so trapped in the past could be even more complex than simply having to flee Saddam's genocide of the Kurds.

Even as Nalin starts to get consumed by the mystery of Hevi, drawn simultaneously into the confusing world of Kurdish-exile politics and the just-as-inexplicable world of health service bureaucracy, she has her own issues to resolve, both with her own Kurdish mother and with the world of the modern student, such as her glamorous flat-mate Tracey (Steph Reynolds)

Evidently, the play as we see it had to be slightly compressed from a piece that would have exceeded 24:7's rules on length. I look forward to seeing that longer version one day soon as I feel that there's plenty more to explore with these fascinating characters. But The Interpreter, Home is already an accomplished, emotionally-charged and in places unexpectedly funny play that has been thrilling those 24:7 audience members lucky enough to have got a ticket already.

Reviewer: Kevin Bourke