Directed by La Boite’s Artistic Director Todd MacDonald, The Neighbourhood is, in my opinion, one of the most powerful forms of storytelling that I’ve witnessed both on and off the stage. Featuring seven storytellers (Amer Thabet, Naavi Karan, Matt Hsu, Aurora Liddle-Christie, Anisa Nandaula, Cieavash Arean, Nima Doostkhah), it is a devised work in which each actor shares their own stories, through music, dance, rap or song and by using the space and the set as their own creative playground.
I wish there were more shows like these; shows that don’t have gigantic two-story sets with fancy lighting rigs and technicolour costumes. Instead, I wish shows focused more on making sure that each personal story is felt, heard and reflected on by the audience. Adam Gardnir and Ben Hughes respective set and lighting design cleverly compliments the emotional world of each story. These stories explore themes ranging from acceptance, survival, longing, loss, the perception of home, family and most importantly, personal identity.
Anisa Nanduala’s story in which she used the metaphor of flicking through the television programs was so exquisitely done and the way she discussed her insecurities, fears and self-loathing was relatable, though in different ways, to everyone in the audience. Without spoiling too much, Amer Thabet’s story in Syria hiding with his friends from enemy soldiers was heart-wrenchingly beautiful and I thank him, for being able to open his heart and relive his painful experiences in order to teach us and encourage us to open our eyes, hearts and minds. Equally as powerful was Aurora Liddle-Christie’s story about her father, which again, couldn’t have been an easy thing to share to a sold-out audience.
The Neighbourhood reminds us how important is it that we build a creative and cultural space in which everyone’s stories are heard, no matter what your skin colour, where you were born or who you love.
Virag Dombay saw ‘The Neighbourhood‘ at La Boite’s Roundhouse Theatre on 12 February 2020. ‘The Neighbourhood plays at the Roundhouse Theatre until 29 February 2020 and at Toowoomba’s Empire Theatre from 27-28 March 2020.
Director & Co-Creator | Todd MacDonald
Co-creators | Aleea Monsour and Ari Palani
Story-tellers | Aurora Liddle-Christie, Naavi Karan Anisa Nandaula, Nima Doostkhah, Cieavash Arean, Amer Joseph Thabet & Dr Matt Hsu
Assistant Creative | Ngog Phan
Set and Costume Designer | Adam Gardnir
Lighting Designer | Ben Hughes
Sound Designer & Composer | Brady Watkins
Stage Manager | Pip Loth
Assistant Stage Manager | Jamie Ng