Nazi Germany, South African apartheid, any city USA circa Black Lives Matter, pre-civil rights era America, Batista regime in Cuba, Cochabamba in Bolivia, Syrian uprising, 1984, even Jews in Bethlehem during the time of Jesus. All these geopolitical comparisons and more can be made during this one play.
Back for a second run in Capital Fringe is It’s What We Do that portrays an aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict getting minimal attention. Three Israeli soldiers answer questions from an unseen narrator and a supporting cast of four civilians. Written and directed by Pamela Nice, the three soldiers are actually composites of 10 actual soldiers and the dialogue is in their own words.
“Harass and disrupt lives” are their orders and the overarching theme that drives their activities while serving in the Israeli military.
The three actor-soldiers, one woman and two men (Caroline Lucas, Zeke Alton, Matthew Gibeson, respectively) are quite believable and human. While Lucas’s anguished facial expressions and dialogue are spot-on, her delivery is a bit unnatural and practiced. Alton and Gibeson’s portrayals of soldiers were filled with emotional roller coasters and were quite effective delivering the mental after-effects of the policies they enforced. The narrator (Dior Ashley Brown), has a soothing presence. The scenes transitioned smoothly. In only a few places did scene lead-ins seem forced.
“It’s What We Do”: A Play about the Occupation
closes July 23, 2017
Details and tickets
The scenes themselves recreate various instances whereby the systematic harassment and disruption took place. Rules are arbitrary, inconsistent, and handed down from higher ranking officers to the soldiers forced to interact with Palestinians and to stop thinking as they did it. The supporting cast (Jamal Najjab, Kaelie James, Matt Stover, Kashvi Ramni, and Ojasvi Ramani) do a superb job of playing numerous characters that are the recipients of mean treatment while they are just trying to live their lives. In a number of instances, the cast used the audience as a prop – as a recipient of the anger of soldiers or settlers. It pulls the audience into the uncomfortable situation and is rather jarring.
Even though you can turn on a cable network and get an overdose of politics, this play stands out because of the similarities to any conflict where one group declares their superiority and systematically oppresses another. The ending comes rather abruptly without a nice tidy conclusion. But then, isn’t that the point? There is still no conclusion. Harass and disrupt lives – It’s what they do.