Immigration has been a high agenda news item for quite some time now, so it’s no surprise that the topic has found its way in to the London theatre circuit, but you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find it paired with Alzheimer’s disease. Lilac Yoisphon’s Jericho’s Rose at The Hope Theatre takes both subjects and weaves them together in a deeply personal story that explores the question of where ‘home’ really is.
In one thread of the story it’s a grandfather, who after living in cities across the world is residing in Tel Aviv, but he can no longer remember where home is. In the other, it’s the granddaughter’s story, her UK visa has expired and now she criss-crosses continents trying once again to be a London based theatre maker, who is actually based in London.
Lilac Yosiphon is both writer and performer in Jericho’s Rose, and she also co-directed the play alongside Mike Cole and Annie-Lunnette Deakin-Foster, so there’s very little doubt that this is Yosiphon literally pouring her heart out in a multi-disciplinary feast for the senses. The intimate nature of the story, heightened by the intimate space of The Hope Theatre, sometimes leaves you feeling you’re missing something, like reading a personal diary without knowing who the author is. That said, these splintered scenes create the sense of misshapen memories for both the grandfather and granddaughter.
Yosiphon portrays both these roles, shifting between them, sometimes mid-conversation, against a recording of the other. Her intense performance seems to suck all the air from the room, creating a vacuum of creativity which you are well and truly a part of. Although performed in English, there are splinters of French, Hebrew and Arabic spoken, which for those of us who are not multilingual creates small moments of disorientation, something that is so important to the central theme.
Will Monk’s projections create a smoky and frenetic backdrop, melding perfectly to the mood, while Yosiphon blends spoken word with physical movements. This is all presented with an enticingly haunting soundtrack of live music and loop pedalled sound, composed and performed by Sam Elwin. The overall effect is dreamlike and draws you even further in to Yosiphon’s memories.
Jericho’s Rose could easily be considered as an abstract piece of theatre, two distinct stories blended together in an often gentle, sometimes disconcerting haze of movement and music. But unlike grandfather and granddaughter, the audience are never left feeling displaced, instead feeling privileged to share in the personal recollections of a promising exceptional talent.