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Taking a walk in Kaveh's shoes


Under The Carpet, Shop Front Theatre, Coventry, November 16.

Young Kaveh was just fifteen metres away when a bomb blew away the front of his school, tossing him high into the air and depriving him of both his hearing and his power of speech for several months.

In the circumstances it might be viewed as a lucky escape, as death from the air was a daily threat to Kaveh and his Kurdish family, living inside Iran just ten miles from the Iraqi border during the savage war between the two countries.

His mother never let the children take off their shoes; they had to be prepared to run at any moment, and their basement was left unlocked to act as a bomb shelter for their neighbours.

Even so, he saw many people killed and witnessed terrible injuries inflicted on one of his own family members by bombs unleashed by unseen hands. Even now, living in Coventry with his own young family and hoping to make a fresh start as a doctor, the memories are too painful to express.

Kaveh's story forms the opening part of Under The Carpet, the fourth piece to be commissioned by Theatre Absolute in their two-year project Are We Where We Are? telling stories, both personal and political, about where we are now.

The political in this piece is delivered by writer and narrator Sarah Woods (pictured), who concentrates in part two on her own experiences as a volunteer in a foodbank, a place, she says, where she gets to choose what type of cereal a family will eat, and which by its very existence symbolises the inequalities of a society in which the poor are swept under the carpet.

It's the starting point for a series of reflections ranging across a bleak landscape of global malnutrition and rising seas and in our own country an economic system that encourages out-of-control household debt. Is there any hope in all of this? she asks, as the performance gives way to an audience discussion.

Well, possibly, in a final footnote from Kaveh's story; his encounter with an old man in Coventry whom he fears is about to abuse him as a refugee, but instead, almost without saying anything, takes him to a shoe shop and buys him a new pair to replace his battered footwear.

As a performance, this instalment of Are We Where We Are? perhaps lacks the dramatic force of some of the earlier pieces, but it's another thought-provoking evening, for all that.

Winner!