I love you: A Story of Forbidden Love – Sydney Fringe (Theatre Review)

I love you – A story of Forbidden Love

At the time of writing the production is over, however you can follow Sage for more information on future productions here.

When Sage Godrei writes about Armenian women defying their father and mother and running off with a young man of choice rather than the one arranged for her, she speaks into a series of complex histories in Armenia playing out in the context of modern life. It was in the 1990’s that women reclaimed the traditional role of woman where cooking a traditional dish (Khash) became a tool to appeal to ‘public’ national narratives from within the ‘private space’ of the woman’s realm. Indeed with the trouble LGBTQI communities are having today in Armenia is a loathing for feminism as a primarily western weakness. The Christian community in Armenia is being used as a tool for pro Russian political persuading’s united under a banner of hatred and loathing for feminists and homosexuals. Through these attitudes (90% of Armenians want homosexuality to be restricted by law) women who autonomise are seen as colluding with homosexuals to bring Western corruption to the country and therefore as anti-nationalist. She is taking over the male role. When performing gender, an Armenian woman is reproducing a certain reality by her clothing and movements, however feminists are breaking dichotomous ideas of what a real man is supposed to be like and a proper woman.

It is these problems Sage Godrei wants to tackle in I love you:A story of Forbidden Love. While the title refers to love expressed between two characters, it stands equally for the idea that love can heal politically and in religious battles. Sage Godrei makes a bold and unapologetic link here between the silencing of women and the inability for Armenia to heal after WW1 and form religious unity. She has her feminist rebel leave for the United States to live her life. This de-centers the focus on the state and relates Armenia’s problems to everyday life practices, regional power constellations held in the confines of international decision making. This is a remarkably modern point, in light of the connections between Russian interests, attacks on the LGBTQI community and feminism. If contemporary Russian propaganda is successful in anything, it is successful in uniting the world on Christian ideals that foster hatred, abuse and violence in words and deeds. Sage Godrei literally pins her characters to a cross in a marketplace to draw a parallel between their post war suffering and the suffering they inflict on women today.

I love you: A story of forbidden love. is a clever production that draws on old world story telling techniques to deliver a complicated nuanced message. It’s earnest and ambitious and yet perfectly suited to the intimacy of the small room at The Blood Moon theatre which is where I saw it. Sage Godrei writes, produces and performs as Isleen (what a beautiful name), but the cross pollination of talent doesn’t stop there, with Sarah Foukas as Malek also directing. The rest of the cast, Glenn Levett, Neil Khare, Jordan Gallegos, Yiss Mill, Ivan Laprida and Deirdre Campbell are respectful and committed to their roles carrying the weight of the text in a light and engaged way.

Sage Godrei is a bit of a force on the Sydney theatre scene, and I love you: A story of Forbidden Love is another wonderful example of her creative energy brought to the stage for us to enjoy.