I am not often particularly moved by theatre at the festival. This, I can honestly say, pushed me towards tears at times.
Silken Veils is a short play about an Iranian woman coming to terms with her personal and cultural identity while living in America. The social and political upheaval of the Iranian Cultural Revolution is portrayed through its fracturing of a single family, and yet what comes through clearly is the prevailing reality within this terrible situtation for any Iranian.
The plot shifts temporally between her present, hiding in a backroom of her wedding as her American husband’s shadow tries to coax her out, as she drifts through memories of her Iranian past. The set and props are simplistic but charming and they use shadows to elaborate the plot. This reminds us that what we are looking at is not supposed to be something tangible and present. It’s a memory or a dream.
The play explores the significance of language to an individual’s sense of identity. Massive issues to do with gender, religion and love are communicated but not dwelt upon. For example, a mother losing her son is told silently with puppetry rather than a shaking, screaming ordeal. And though Silken Veils is in many ways political, it remains accessible because of its focus on one woman’s experience of family – an utterly universal subject.
Silken Veils, Assembly One, 5-28 August, 15.40