My Name Is Rachel Corrie review – vivid testimony of a hyperactive activist

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My Name Is Rachel Corrie review – vivid testimony of a hyperactive activist

Post by Sassy on Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:50 pm

Young Vic, London
Erin Doherty emerges as one of the year’s great discoveries with a stunning performance as the young American desperate to rectify the world’s injustices

Time changes things. This selection from the journals of Rachel Corrie – judiciously compiled by the late Alan Rickman and the Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner – was first seen in 2005. Then, the memory of its protagonist’s death was still fresh: she was crushed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza two years earlier.

Today the story is not only less familiar but is the subject of protests from the Zionist Federation. Yet the play remains a deeply moving human document and is stunningly performed by Erin Doherty who – after this and her appearance in Alan Ayckbourn’s The Divide in Edinburgh – is one of the year’s great discoveries. Corrie emerges from the play as a rare human spirit combining a poetic sensitivity with a political conscience – as if Sylvia Plath had been crossed with Jane Fonda.

Born in Olympia, Washington – “a place where hippie kids come after touring with jam bands” – she admits to being scared of people, yet driven by a compulsive need to help them. A teenage trip to Russia turns her from a local activist into one with a global awareness. That leads her to go to Israel and work in Gaza with the International Solidarity Movement to support Palestinians whose homes were being systematically demolished.

Seeing the play a second time, I was struck by Corrie’s solitude and sense of impending death. Yet her journal also records the beleaguered existence of people in the city of Rafah: 602 homes have been bulldozed, many of those that survive have tank holes in the walls, checkpoints prevent people getting to work or registering at university. Protesters claim that Corrie was a naive girl manipulated by jihadists. But the play does not pretend to be an objective, in-depth study of the Israeli-Palestinian situation: what it offers is the vivid personal testimony of an acutely aware young woman living in a besieged city.

Josh Roche’s revival is less scenically realistic than Rickman’s original production. The focus instead is on Corrie as a hyperactive activist. There is a frenzied bustle to Doherty’s performance as she savagely staples her diary extracts to the bloodied boards of Sophie Thomas’s set as if in a constant race against time.

What you also notice about Doherty are her eyes: bright and shining in her Olympian teenage years, sombrely watchful as she sees Palestinian suffering at first hand. Above all, she conveys the restless intelligence of a young American propelled by the urge to rectify the world’s injustices yet prophetically aware of her own mortality.

At the Young Vic, London, until 26 October. Box office: 020-7922 2922.

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/oct/05/my-name-is-rachel-corrie-review-young-vic

Alan Rickman turned her journals into a play.

Love to go and see it, but knowing it's truthful and the dreadful way she died, I would probably leave in tears.
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Sassy
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