Echo Chambers: Making Sense of Destruction
Torn apart by conflict, the Middle East is a region as bloody as it is hopeless. Shown in Espace libre, the play Chambres d'écho skilfully and implacably observes the ravages of the war in Syria, the decay of the Lebanese state, as well as the harmful influence of the West.
Philippe Ducros was inspired by his own experiences in these countries to write this work which he is directing. In this autofiction, he leaves in 2019 to visit Samia, a friend he had known in Syria about 15 years earlier and with whom he maintains a correspondence via social networks. She is the only one of her acquaintances who has remained there despite the civil war that is raging there. However, he must pass through Lebanon, which is in the grip of popular revolts.
This simple framework is frequently interspersed with remarks on the past and present of this region, in particular the Arab Spring which raised so many hopes in the 2010s. This discourse denounces Western and American imperialism, while not obscuring the responsibilities of tyrants and other actors who pull the strings to the detriment of the people who suffer.
Everything is marvelously rendered by a scenography relying on a panoply of archive images that plunge us into the heart of the chaos.
Étienne Pilon plays the main character, that of a powerless Philippe in front of so many horror, trying to understand what is happening before his eyes. The actor is accompanied by Mounia Zahzam, who plays Samia, but also a narrator. Without being transcendent, they offer a solid performance.
The strength of this production comes above all from its committed approach in order to show these forces that make blood flow. Geopolitical references are omnipresent. Fans of history and current events are delighted. However, the sheer number of politicians, groups and movements discussed overwhelms those less familiar with these issues.
By showing this quilt of competing interests, however, the author manages to highlight the complexity of the path to browse to find compromises. The playwright also raises the difficulty of getting out of his own echo chamber in order to make sense of all this destruction. This tough but essential proposal is therefore a fine tribute to all those populations who still suffer in indifference and for whom peace seems far from within reach.
Chambres d 'echo ★★★1⁄2
- Directed by Philippe Ducros
- With Étienne Pilon and Mounia Zahzam
♦ Chambers of Echo is presented until March 4, 2023 .