Taha is an extraordinarily inspiring show detailing the life of one of Palestine’s most beloved poets, Taha Muhammed Ali. Set against the backdrop of the Arab-Israeli war, Amer Hlehel stages a moving story of survival, loss, love and above all else, hope.
This isn’t a simple poetry recital nor is it a complete play charting Taha’s life and work. Intertwining monologue with snippets from Taha’s best loved poems, one gets a real sense of the poet’s plight and hard journey through life. This is thanks to Hlehel’s captivating narrative and command of the stage, an impressive feat for a 75 minute one man show with minimal props and very little staging.
However, the show is not without its flaws or stumbling blocks. Despite having a long running time, it does feel rushed considering Hlehel is covering 50 years of Taha’s life. It almost feels limiting, not only in duration but also content. Although Taha is never defined by the conflict he has lived through, he has lived through it nonetheless and this offers Hlehel a good opportunity to reflect on war and even the current conflict in the East. Instead, the show chooses to focus purely on Taha’s personal life with little scope to focus on the politics surrounding his life.
An emotional piece which highlights the power of the spoken word and the strength of human will in times of hardship and conflict, Taha feels as relevant now as when it’s namesake wrote his poems over forty years ago.
Words: Claire Jack
Taha, Summerhall, Aug 9-13, 11.50am