"Modern-day Jonahs and the whale"
by Coco Hall for remotegoat on 23/04/13

At first we don't know where we are, when we enter Riverside 3. A rumbling soundtrack and atmospheric lighting accompany us to our seats. Around the stage a ring of dangerous looking spikes, with detritus scattered about.

Three men - soldiers from various countries with pronounced accents and different languages - have been thrown into this non-space. Is it the hold of a ship, a submarine, or really, the belly of a whale?

The biblical story of Jonah and the whale is what the title references - Nineveh was the city Jonah was trying to get away from when he was swallowed by the whale.

The three soldiers, played by Nabil Stuart, Yaron Shavit, and Gethin Alderman, alternate between philosophy and buffoonery, whilst they try to figure out why they are there. It is not until the unexpected entry of Chance, a boy with his mouth sewn-up, (played strongly and subtly by John Kamu), that they begin to see a possible way out.

These damaged souls have all committed horrific crimes, but in war who is really to blame? Though Stuart and Alderman act as the alpha males, bullying Shavit all along, we discover he has had to do things just as bad as them. The play doesn't answer, or judge, but asks you to think.

Nineveh plays with a melange of physical movement, text and an emotive soundscape, and though sometimes, particularly at the beginning before Chance is discovered, this mix works really well, but towards the end of the play the interaction between dialogue and movement doesn't flow as smoothly.

Physical theatre company Theatre Temoin use the words of soldiers from Kashmir, Israel, Lebanon, and Rwanda to explore accountability in war. The company held workshops and created theatre with local people affected by war. The play is the result of this. Though this project sounds fascinating, there is something that didn't gel for me in the play. It is difficult to know how much of the actual dialogue, written by playwright Julia Pascal, is verbatim, and whether it was those sections that didn't quite fit. There was some powerful dialogue and provocative writing. Overall, this was a very accomplished piece, which will have you leaving the theatre, thinking about it for a good while after.

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