Arts Review: My Friend Selma

Dir. Joe Douglas, Tron Theatre, 23rd – 24th October

 My Friend Selma is carried by the innocent charm and remarkable talent of its only actress, Victoria Beesley. She tells a real-life story – probably not the happiest one.

Twenty years ago, a young Bosnian girl lived peacefully in her home country until the Serb invasion and the ensuing ethnic cleansing of non-Orthodox minorities happened. Being Muslims, Selma’s life and her family’s are threatened. They barely escape a slaughter – then it’s time to flee. Where to? The UK.

Selma is a lively and courageous child, who experiences violence, fear and mourning at a tender age. Yet, despite enduring hardships many cannot imagine, she gets on with her life with the resilient ability to accept change that only children seem capable of. Settling in the UK, she makes a new best friend, Vicky, and discovers not only a new culture, but also that amazing feeling of being safe again. Everything has been seen through the eyes of a child, and so it is told with a naïve yet down-to-earth sensibility, a disarming spontaneity that gives even more credit to the whole performance.

 Joe Douglas is a clever director. He manages to give consistency to Selma’s story by the subtle use of lighting and sounds which illustrates perfectly the story. The most ingenious element of dramaturgy is the climbing frame around which the actress performs, turning it into different pieces of setting: playgrounds, her house in Bosnia and the car that takes her far away.

 My Friend Selma is a thrilling tale of hope and growing up that will ravish the bitterest of hearts. We discover at the end that the actress is no other than Vicky, Selma’s best friend – it is a real tribute to her 23-year long and still going friendship with Selma that she delivers in front of an audience filled with emotion.

[Gabrielle Gonçalves]

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