This version of Your Love Is Fire opens at Summerhall laden with bitter irony. Of the four actors in Mudar Alhaggi’s exploration of the existential turmoil of escaping Syria’s civil war, only two were able to obtain travel visas. As a consequence, this is a truncated, partial staging, with surtitled voiceovers taking their place. But even in its incomplete state, there’s searing power.
As Hala (Louna Abu Darhamin) tries to persuade soldier Khaldoun (Mohamed Alrashi) to desert Assad’s army and escape Damascus with his girlfriend, Rand, chaos reigns outside their apartment. In the background, projected footage of a cat playing with a dying mouse is almost impossible to watch.
Alhaggi’s play is about how it feels to contemplate leaving everything you’ve known. It’s also a fourth-wall-breaking wrestle with the agony of having gone. Characters argue as if they're creations of a writer (another character, but now one of the voiceovers here) in Lebanon and on his way to permanent exile in Germany. They step outside their narrative to rail angrily at him, almost like a lover, at his inability to move their story forward — to save them.
Director Rafat Alzakout, Darhamin and Alrashi bring a fierce intensity and bleak humour to this use of authorial responsibility to capture the swirling fear of not knowing how this destructive chapter in Syria’s history will end. Light spilling through bullet holes in a silhouetted sheet of iron is an indelible image in a production whose sheer presence at the Fringe is a powerful achievement.