Capturing the essence of an avant-garde and self-reflective spectacle like Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World within a few words proves challenging. This show masterfully melds experimentation, self-awareness, and political engagement into an unprecedented visual, artistic, and even musical journey.
Javaad Alipoor, the Anglo-Iranian playwright and director, skilfully bridges two cultures, raising awareness among the audience about distant issues while simultaneously questioning the process of knowledge acquisition on which our perception of reality is built.
At the core of Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World lies the mysterious murder of Fereydoun Farrokhzad, whom Alipoor dubs “The Iranian Tom Jones”, a culturally progressive figure in 1970s Iran, deemed a dissident by the Islamic regime and ferociously assassinated on August 7, 1992, in Bonn, Germany, where he had sought refuge. The show attempts to unravel this mystery, employing a thoroughly meta-approach through the lens of the currently popular podcast format by performer Asha Reid, who meticulously stages a cold-case podcast, diving into Farrokhzad’s murder.
However, the true crime genre is only a façade, a pretext for a more profound reflection on our society and a still dominant form of colonialism. Javaad Alipoor, known for his employment of virtual and technological tools, unveils how genuine knowledge becomes elusive in a world subject to the dominion of the internet and a virtual post-colonialism that redirects our desires and needs towards superficial information, by involving the audience into a potentially endless journey into Wikipedia links and holes.
Similarly, past and present meet as the show takes a politically active turn in the figure of King Raam (aka Raam Emani), an exiled contemporary Iranian musician who shares his personal experiences and musically accompanies us, performing songs alongside fellow musician Me-Lee Hay. The outcome is a symphony of genres – from meta-theatre and true-crime podcasts to authentic testimonials, an amalgamation that proves both thought-provoking and touching.
Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World is a cerebral production born from study, research, and meditation. It embraces experimentation without losing clarity and remains strikingly human throughout. Ultimately, it is profoundly moving, as it successfully achieves Alipoor’s purpose: connecting cultures, sparking awareness, and challenging the foundations of our understanding of reality. A true masterpiece that lingers long after the final curtain call.