A Reason to Talk

theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 08 Aug 2015

Sachli Gholamalizad is torn between the need to pull her mother close and push her away. She's afraid to make the choice. Appropriately, A Reason to Talk shares that sense of proximity and distance as the performer sits facing away from her audience, but looking straight at us through the webcam of her MacBook. Her face—concentrated, anguished—is projected overhead as she operates the show's multimedia elements, her eye contact with us digitally distant yet disarmingly direct. 

Gholamalizad's mother fled Iran for Belgium following the revolution, raising her children between two cultures. This solo show blends filmed interviews with a monologue spoken into her laptop, as the actor forces her mother to confront the political unrest of the past whilst exploring her own personal trauma of living an intercultural life. She switches between the different languages that have shaped her identity and typing sparsely written text, conjuring feelings of cultural disconnection and family bitterness, recalling the fleeting contact of online sex and remembering childhood songs.

Despite the stillness of the staging, Gholamalizad's performance conveys a palpably raw anger and resentment, as she recounts being culture-shocked into bed wetting as a child, attempting to adhere to her mother's Iranian values during her European teenage years, and facing outright racism and Islamaphobia in Belgium. A slightly too-long running time and a lack of clarity near the beginning are all that diminish the potency of this bravely personal piece.