Hope in the “Ruined”

I was reading the New York Times last night, and read that Ruined won the Lucille Lowell award last night. One thing the short review of the play mentioned was the aesthetic beauty of the set, all the more powerful because of its reliance not on tangible “set” masterpieces, but on the intrinsic color of the fabric, the luminescent glow of the lights, the occasional stirrings of lush green within the otherwise dim theatre.  The action was staged against thick-trunked trees, illuminated by a soft-bluish tint that glistened when the rain crashed down on this particular area of the Congo.

The sound was at the instance of this thunder, deafening and it brought with it the reverberations of fear within the audience. Later when it was bombs, not the rain that caused us to quake in our boots, we were made aware of the violence because we could “hear” it, and quantify it on the scale of the auditory.
Ruined was the story of Africa, and Africa and her politics were never far from our minds as we watched. We were reminded them through the vernacular of the rebels, the talk of corruption, through a world that lay outside the idyllic escapism offered in the form of sex, music and cold fanta in Mama Nadis establishment while life raged on outside.

For me, the play was about memory, and the suppression of memory in order to live through unquantifiable hurt, through the difficult, everyday events that constitute our daily lives.  Mama Nadi perpetuates the expulsion of memory from her clean, brightly lit whorehouse. Bullets must be removed, guns handed over: Upon entrance into her brothel, the war ceases to exist. Sophie’s entrance into the brothel – however becomes a constant reminder. She politicizes the whorehouse where otherwise reality could only trickle in through words. However at the end of the brutality, Christian and Mama Nadi’s embrace reflects the hope for forgiveness and reparation during ‘a war that keeps fracturing and repairing itself’


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