Fireworks (Al’ab Nariya)

Reviewer's Rating

Fireworks  follows the story of two Palestinian families living in the West Bank during the Gaza conflict. While Ahmad and Samar worry about their son, Khalil, who at times acts violently against his mother, Khalid and Nahala struggle to come to terms with the death of their son. Nahala’s obsession with her deceased child slowly descends into madness. She is aggressive towards her husband and leaves her precocious daughter, Lubna, feeling abandoned and forgotten. This leads Lubna to spend more time with Nahala, playing childish games inside the constraints of their building. They share an innocent world-view, one that is disguised in the belief that the bombings outside are fireworks but as the war unfolds, they eventually learn the truth about their situation and learn to accept their new reality.

The play begins with an innovative use of flashing images, creating a striking first impression that is combined with the sound of bombs crashing into the darkness heightens the intensity and gives the audience a terrifying idea of what it might feel like to be caught in the midst of war. The actors are nearly always on stage, creating a sense of claustrophobia in the squalor of their living room that serves as a vessel for all their problems in the play.

Nahala’s portrayal of woman in bereavement after the loss of her son was particularly captivating. This theme is nonetheless predictable and is cleverly used as a political tool to, what seems obvious, emotionally manipulate the audience into empathizing with the Palestinian people without informing them about the roots of the conflict. The play conveniently avoids to mention the Palestinian use of human shields, terror tunnels, the on going dispatch of suicide bombers, the children indoctrination to hate that are at the core of the problem.  Although the aesthetics and the acting is of a good standard and visually very interesting, the actual content is weak and seeks to emotionally manipulate the audience into taking the Palestinian side of the Gaza conflict at face value.