Emteaz Hussain’s Outsiders is a re-imagining of Camus’ L’ Étranger. In Camus’ novel an indifferent French Algerian, Meursault, after attending his mother’s funeral without shedding a single tear, apathetically kills an anonymous Arab, in French- at the time-Algiers. The story is narrated in the first person by him.
Emteaz Hussain in Outsiders gives voice to the voiceless heroines of the story. Set in a room divided by a paravan, and dominated by a brown palette. Many years after the murder on the beach, one French woman – Marie, Meursault’s fiancée – and one Algerian – Sumaya, the murdered man’s sister – partly narrate and partly discuss their lives, the events leading to the murder and the impact that fateful day had on both their lives. Camus’ voiceless became Hussain’s outcasts. They belong in different communities that despise each other, different religions and live in different parts of the town; the Pied-Noir and the Arab. They were both trying to escape their suffocating lives before the murder both are made outcasts and branded “immoral” after it.
It’s a fast-paced play, which despite the occasional slips of the accents and the acting that could do with a bit more fierceness, is engaging. It touches on issues of racism – the ever present resentment between the French and the Arab communities is palpable – colonialism, the ethics of guilt and above all else it’s an accurate snapshot of the position of women in both communities. The constraints imposed on them by their gender and ethnicity and the burden of being agents of virtue. It does not go exceptionally deep in any of them, but it definitely gives a vivid and captivating image of the two women and their lives. A piece of theatre worth catching.
- By Emteaz Hussain
- Directed by Fraser Corfield
- Produced by Pilot Theatre in collaboration with Univ. of York & ATYP
- Cast: Sara Sadeghi and Lou Broadbent
- Canada Water Culture Space, London
- 10 & 11 November 2015
- Review by Katerina Yannouli
- 13 November 2015