An archaeologist has been murdered in Hebron, and two police officers, one Israeli, one Palestinian, have met in a grim Israeli interrogation room to find the culprit. They’re only interested in the cold, hard facts of the case, but as they begin to interview a recalcitrant suspect, tempers and tensions rise until ideologies and resentments pour out like sweat.
Canadian writer Arthur Milner’s play has been given a deservedly brilliant UK premiere, with a powerful, erratic central performance from Michael Feast as tweaking Israeli cop Yossi, played against the quiet dignity of Philip Arditti as Palestinian Khalid. Director Caitlin McLeod lets the pressure build gradually, until Georgia Lowe’s superb thrust design feels like an airlock.
Milner’s play has been expanded since its original Ottawa premiere, but several sections still feel rather thin. The character of Khalid is equally as intriguing as the raving Yossi, but he’s left with little but exposition. Similarly the density of the text and the speed at which McLeod drives it can leave the human drama feeling overwhelmed.
‘Facts’ is a shard of mirror angled at the West Bank, ragged and visibly incomplete, it nonetheless contains a miniature reflection of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is striking in its lucidity. Stewart Pringle