Friday, January 25, 2019

'Our Lady of Kibeho' by Katori Hall

25 January 2019

In 1981 at a Catholic college in Kibeho in the mountains of Rwanda, three girls apparently experienced a visitation from the Virgin Mary. Katori Hall’s remarkable new play ‘Our Lady of Kibeho’, which we saw at the Royal Theatre in Northampton on Tuesday, uses this incident as a way to explore the conditions that led eventually to the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Some people believe the Virgin Mary appeared to warn of the approaching tragedy but the play leaves us to make up our own minds about whether the events at Kibeho were a religious miracle, mass hallucination or something else. Katori Hall is more interested in showing the growing divisions between Hutu and Tutsi that would have catastrophic outcomes. The UK premiere of ‘Our Lady of Kibeho’ is a triumph for the Royal & Derngate and its Director James Dacre, receiving glowing reviews from several national newspapers, including a five star review from Michael Billington in The Guardian: It’s a beautiful production, full of charm and mystery, with an underlying ominousness. The excellent cast includes a Community Ensemble of local amateur actors and features stunning performances by Ery Nzaramba as the Headteacher and Gabrielle Brooks, Yasmin Mwanza and Pepter Lunkuse as the three girls. Orlando Gough’s music features some gorgeous a capella singing and Jonathan Fensom’s set manages to match the contradictory sunny but storm-laden feel of the play.

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