A lone spotlight illuminates a single carpet which serves as O’Kelly’s performance space.
Photo courtesy of Lebanon's European Theatre Festival
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First staged in 2016, "The Olive Tree" had its Beirut debut at Masrah al-Madina Saturday evening, part of Lebanon's European Theatre Festival.At one point a screen discretely erected at the back of the stage, is illuminated with a montage of scenes from occupied Palestine, but the audio-visual bells and whistles that have come to accompany contemporary theatre are kept to a minimum.The heavy lifting of animating the play falls to O'Kelly herself. Her character "Ash," the play's narrator, works the till at Tesco, a job that's made her too numb to care about much. This no small feat given that the script has been so cleverly devised to speak to an Irish (or U.K.) audience -- whether a Palestinian character informing Ash that Ireland is the historic home of boycott, or Ash herself noting the incongruity of a grocery store in Ireland stocking potatoes from Israel.As she made her curtain call, O'Kelly remarked how exciting it was to be able to stage her work so close to Palestine.
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