by Lynn on April 8, 2011

in The Passionate Playgoer

Trevor Copp, Pam Patel, Anne-Marie Donovan

At Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace. Co-created by Majdi Bou-Matar, Trevor Copp, Anne-Marie Donovan, Nada Homsi, Gary Kirkham, Pam Patel and Alan K. Sapp. Directed by Majdi Bou-Matar. Set by Sheree Tams and William Chesney. Costumes by Sheree Tams. Lighting by Jennifer Jimenez. Music by Nick Storring. Starring: Trevor Copp, Anne-Marie Donovan, Nada Homsi, Pam Patel and Alan K. Sapp.

Produced by The MT Space (Kitchener-Waterloo) in association with Theatre Passe Muraille.

On November 9, 2005 Rawad Jassem Mohammed Abed walked into a wedding celebration in a hotel in Amman, Jordan and detonated the explosives around his waist. Among the people he killed besides himself, were the celebrated Syrian film director Mustapha Akkad and his daughter Rima, the bride at this celebration.

The Last 15 Seconds details who these people were; their histories; their hopes, dreams and frustrations. It also creates an imagined conversation after the fact, between Mustapha Akkad and Rawad Abed.

Mustapha always wanted to be a film director when growing up in Syria. His father wanted him to be a doctor. But he supported his son’s wish and gave him $200 when Mustapha left for America to study film and begin his career. To fund his passion for making films celebrating his people and their history, Mustapha produced the Halloween series of horror-slasher movies.

Rawad Abed grew up in a family of women in Iraq. On the day he was born Rawad’s father was killed in one of the four wars the boy would experience by the time he was 15. His childhood friends died in various killings, his family’s neighbours perished too. Hate for occupying forces and frustration at the situation festered in Rawad, until he decided to do what he could to lash out; he and his bride would be suicide bombers and die together in that Jordanian hotel. Only his wife couldn’t bring herself to do it at the last minute.

The Last 15 Seconds is a harrowing, gut-wrenching story to be sure, but it is told with such artful elegance and vivid imagination by MT Space Theatre, that it is both compelling and incredibly moving. Using movement, dance, video projections, vocals, acting, and text, it shows us so many aspects of these stories and none of them is a black and white condemnation.

In one conversation between Mustapha and Rawad, Mustapha directs Rawad as if in a film, to explain his position as a martyr. Time and time again, Mustapha urges Rawad to be truthful, passionate and clear.

In another scene, Rawad explains his actions because he wanted to be a hero like Salahadeen, one of the most celebrated figures in Muslim history. Mustapha challenges him by saying that his suicide bombing proved nothing and helped nobody. And that Mustapha’s next film, had he lived, would be a celebration of Salahadeen’s life.

Trevor Copp as Rawad and Alan K. Sapp as Mustafa are very fine. The cast of five as a whole is terrific.

The images created by director Majdi Bou-Matar and his company are breathtaking. Rawad, first starring at Mustapha sitting at a table, and then ripping at his clothes to detonate the explosives, segues into a projection on the back wall of the wedding banquet with many tables of celebrants, that then dissolves into chaos, noise and falling bodies.

Piles of clothes that are dropped on the floor represent either bodies of the dead or their clothes. Women frantically pick through the piles looking for their loved ones often results in the terrible discovery. Very moving.

Mustapha’s mother, stroking his face and chest, as she says good-by to him as he goes to American, wishing him to make a difference by thinking with his head and heart, is delicate and so effective. Image after image takes a terrible thing, creates art, and makes us look and understand.

The women play members of both Rawad’s and Mustapha’s family’s with a simple change of costume. In the end both family’s are shattered by the suicide bombing and we grieve for all of them without hesitation.

This is theatre at its heart-squeezing, compelling best. Theatre Passe Muraille under Andy McKim, in its quiet, tenacious way is producing this important kind of theatre as a matter of course.

The Last 15 Seconds plays at Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace until April 16, 2011.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lynn April 23, 2011 at 5:11 am

Glad you enjoyed it and bookmarked it.


2 Lynn Slotkin April 23, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Thanks for this. Please explain; what does ‘trade featured posts’ mean?

I look forward to hearing from you.