Sudip Chakroborthy and Tareq Abdullah, Tramway, 8th October
MEMORi is part of the Home Away theatre festival put on by the National Theatre of Scotland at Tramway. Created by Glaswegians from Bangladeshi descent, the piece tells three different stories about the Bangladesh Liberation War.
The show opens with three figures holding what look like flags, except that the poles are shaped like guns. A narrator then appears next to a gramophone and sets the scene. The first story is that of a father, mother and son – the younger narrator – who are told by a friend that the Pakistani Militia Junta are forcing citizens into concentration camps, demanding them to leave their home. The rest of the act depicts the families’ journey escaping the military, including a comical scene where they are on a fertiliser truck and the son tries to escape the smell by creating a hole in the tarpaulin.
A female narrator then appears, depicting her younger self trying to leave with her new born child and being refused upon a boat because “the baby will slow them down.” This is a moving scene and more philosophical than the first act, as it concentrates on how “women and children are often collateral damage of war.”
Finally, we are shown the tale of the last narrator when he was a boy. He sees a body being dragged around, covered in yellow mustard flowers. The body is that of a freedom tortured fighter, representing not only a fight for freedom in this war but the fight of any oppressed individual. The final image is one of unity, with all the characters joining three girls dancing to a Bengali song of “beauty, truth and freedom” on stage, forming a symbolic line behind them.
The play sheds light on a devastating war many may not know about and does so successfully by making the audience witness different individuals’ experiences of it. Its use of poetic and political statements as well as its beautiful scenography and a varied cast makes it not only educational but interesting to watch even when one does not fully understand the plot.