Show: The Djinns of Eidgah
Venue: Sweet Grassmarket
Star rating: ****
Reviewer: Abbie McGrath
Setting the tone straight away, I am briskly asked for an ID upon entry by an intimidating guard holding an assault rifle and carefully watched while I sit down. In the background we hear children playing, mimicking the sound of gun shots with an eerie innocence to their laughter. The play is an immersive experience as soon as you walk through the door, creating a tense atmosphere that continues throughout this incredible performance.
Following the life of a young star in football, Bilal is a teen who plans to travel with their sister out of the conflict area and be free, initially distancing themselves from the protests. Bilal is played excellently by Imane Bou-Saboun, caring for their younger sister Ashrafi (Tanya Brown) who has been traumatised after witnessing the horrific death of their father.
We are walked through the story of an increasing resistance to the Indian occupation following the recent death of a child who is to be placed to rest on Eid. With this child’s needless death, the community’s anger strengthens, and the resistance grows.
Dr Baig, played by Suchitra Sebastian, shows another viewpoint on the conflict having lost their son who fought for the mujahideen. With unaddressed trauma from the loss, Dr Baig finds the son returning to haunt them, but whether this is the presence of a djinn or a side effect of unresolved grief remains unclear. Suchitra impressively captures the complexity of Dr Baig’s pain, providing another perspective on the effects of the resistance efforts.
The Djinns of Eidgah provides a devastating insight into the lives of those struggling under an oppressive rule, who have had their rights restricted and their freedom limited. Bilal’s inspiring hope keeps the audience hooked throughout, her story painful to watch but a harsh reality for many within Kashmir.
The play gives a small window into the struggles facing the people in Kashmir today, who are still seeking freedom 70 years on. The play shows the strength and bravery of those living in Kashmir, both then and now. Most importantly, the play demonstrated that until the conflict ends, the Kashmiri people will never truly be free.
The Djinns of Eidgah – this run has now ended