And Here I Am, Theatre Review. Unity Theatre, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *

Cast: Ahmed Tobasi.

It is perhaps possible to watch the news and see an item, a report on a camp somewhere in the world, and feel more than moved, beyond horrified at the images of the refugees caused by war, famine and any number of natural and man-made disasters. For a while you feel their pain, you write social media messages of support, tweet angry messages which all boil down to the same thing, something must be done, and then you move on, you don’t forget entirely but human existence as it is, it just goes to the back of the mind and stays there till the next humanitarian disaster comes along.

What we naturally do is forget the person, the individual, the one to whom may have caught our unexpected eye, until much later when we see them again, a similar newscast, a memory, fragmented, not complete and in that moment brave people such as Birhan Woldu become a human face to the desperate and the lost in time.

Such is the fate of many in modern day refugee camps, ones built by the suffering of war, displacement and the harbouring ground for activism that we forget life has a meaning, all those dreams, their ambitions, desires, all wiped out because even in this day and age there are those who would deny that another person should live, that they should be able to shout from the rooftops, And Here I Am.

The life of Ahmed Tobasi is one that shouts such words of freedom and yet is steeped in the remains of such human discarded thought, a young boy locked in the camps of Beirut, surrounded by ill feeling and suspicion of a greater power, joining a political movement’s infrastructure at 17, falling in love with a girl who would hold his heart forever, imprisoned, released after four years in whom he should have been like any other late teen learning about life and its more beautiful trials and then set free to travel to Belguim and Norway to study acting.

Shouted rebellious words of freedom are such that sometimes they get lost in the dark, they fall and never recover but for Palestinian actor Ahmed Tobasi, those words are the prelude to understanding in another culture’s eyes, to make the country you visit realise that all in the camps are human and have a voice. Such is the power of the performance, the joy, the laughter and the bitterness entwined that quite rightly the audience treated to such a display of emotion and human heart at the Unity Theatre, were simply blown away and delivered the standing ovation that the actor truly deserved.

Ahmed Tobasi is a revelation, a story teller and an actor who brings the human face of the wronged and dispossessed to life, an actor and a human being who knows the true power of the four words, And Here I Am.

Ian D. Hall