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Liberian Girl, Royal Court Upstairs, review: 'horrors up close'
By SP_COP on January 14, 2015 | From www.telegraph.co.uk
Liberian Girl, Royal Court Upstairs, review: 'horrors up close' Between 1989 and 1996, the first Liberian civil war claimed the lives of 200,000 people. The country was turned on its head in a conflict of unspeakable violence and Diana Nneka Atuona’s assured, provocative debut takes you into this world of perpetual danger. It’s a brutally immersive production, directed by Matthew Dunster, in which the audience are required to stand throughout and confront the drama’s many horrors up close. The actors playing the soldiers shout abuse at audience members and herd them into different corners of the stage, at one point separating the men from the women

Martha (Juma Sharkah) is a bright, bookish 14-year-old who is forced, alongside her wise, crotchety grandmother, Mamie Esther (Cecilia Noble), to flee their village as rebel soldiers approach. Mamie has made the reluctant Martha disguise herself as a boy in order to avoid being raped, but this sage move gets complicated when they are ambushed. Martha is forced to join a rebels’ unit full of trigger-happy teenage boys, coked up to their eyeballs and fuelled by dreams of glory which have been put in their heads by the Commander (Fraser James) who has, in reality, robbed them of their childhoods.

All of a sudden, village life seems very far away and Atuona adeptly shows how Martha (now known as Frisky) becomes inured to her new, volatile world. In one utterly shocking scene Frisky is forced to witness the murder of one young girl and then join in the rape of the dead girl’s friend, Finda (which she of course has to simulate). However, Atuona has skilfully created a heroine who never completely surrenders her femininity and we later see Frisky protecting the abused Finda who is heartbreakingly grateful for being spared further sexual violation....
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