“Scorched” , a play by Montreal based writer Wajdi Mouawad tells the story of twins Janine and Simon, as they try to uncover the truth behind their mother’s years long silence.
I read the English version – the original, “Incendie”, is in French. It’s always interesting to see how the translator manages to capture the essence of a story in a different language especially in the case of this play where the power of words, whether spoken or written, is a particularly prominent theme . It is a story of love and war, the bonds of family and truth, no matter how dark. From broken promises to wills with odysseyan instructions, the play is unapologetic, earnest and surprisingly refreshing considering its heavy subject matter.
The narrative is almost dreamlike – time is fluid in this world with scenes happening simultaneously in the past and the present, its language poetic with an ending worthy of a Mexican soap opera sans the melodrama. Expect a few tears. “Scorched” is the second of four in Mouawad’s dramatic quarter set.
A few memorable quotes:
” I’m not the one who’s crying, your whole life is pouring down your cheeks”
“Take your youth and any possible happiness and leave the village. You are the bloom of this valley, Nawal. You are its sensuality and its smell. Take them with you and tear yourself away from here, the way we tear ourselves away from our mother’s womb.”
“There is nothing here for us. I get up in the morning and people say, “Sawda, there’s the sky,” but no one has anything to say about the sky. […] People show me the world but the world is mute. And life goes by and everything is murky. I saw the letters you engraved and I thought: that is a woman’s name. As if the stone had become transparent. One word and everything lights up.”
“Janine, Let me hear her silence.”