Debuting at Edinburgh’s Summerhall, Your Love Is Fire – the latest offering from Syrian playwright Mudar Alhaggi – is a powerful examination of the internal conflicts experienced by those exiled from their homeland and by those living through war every day.
Set in an apartment in Damascus, the play sees two characters – Hala and Rand – discussing the possibility of fleeing to Germany. Rand, however, will not consider leaving for Europe without her boyfriend Khaldoun, who serves in the army and is unwilling to desert due to fear. Here, the play takes a look at the heaviness of not knowing how to proceed, or where to turn, or what to say. It explores the aching disappointment of waiting for a change that never comes.
The introduction of The Author, a character with a different kind of perspective, is a creative decision that adds even more poignancy to the production. Now living in a refugee camp in Germany, The Author tells of how his work has been affected by his exile, and how he is trying to navigate the array of complex emotions that continues to follow him. He still faces uncertainty about his future, he says. He still doesn’t know what will come next.
The acting is consistently emotional and passionate in Your Love Is Fire, and the play unequivocally achieves its objective of avoiding ‘simple stories of heroes and victims’. At the beginning of the performance, the audience is informed that two of the actors were denied visas. While the team behind the show power on regardless, the last-minute alterations employed to accommodate a smaller cast definitely results in some confusion: it can be difficult, at points, to work out exactly what is happening.
Though the hurried changes do impact the coherence of the play to a certain extent, Your Love Is Fire still stands as a compelling production. With impressive acting and some memorable lines – including one character’s assertion that ‘if nothing changes, nothing comes to an end’ – Your Love Is Fire proves itself an emotive debut.
Words: Morgan Laing
Your Love Is Fire, Summerhall, Aug 12-27 (not 14, 21), 11.30am