A Line in the Sand premiered over 20 years ago. It is set during a war that occurred over 20 years ago.
And yet, here we are, with lumps in our throats and tears in our eyes as we watch a play that warrants a comparison to today’s atrocities, whether we choose to believe it or not.
We watch them through TV screens. People are being killed. People are fleeing war. People are being rejected and forced to live in filthy cold places.
And yet, it’s easy to ignore. It often takes an in-your-face moment or image like the photo of a drowned toddler to spark global concern. And we have only scratched the surface in terms of change.
With A Line in the Sand, which was written by Guillermo Verdecchia and Marcus Youssef, and directed by Nigel Shawn Williams, audiences are dragged directly in front of victims of war and all of the twisted psychology that comes along with them. And they watch it all unfold before their eyes, with no opportunity to pick up the remote when things become difficult to watch.
Set during the Gulf War, the play explores a chance meeting between a Canadian soldier named Mercer (Morgan David Jones) and a Palestinian teenager named Sadiq (Danny Ghantous) that escalates into catastrophe.
The audience is introduced to the torment of war through the perspective of Sadiq and his family, while also learning about the psychological torment, desensitization and toxic masculinity that destroys Mercer as a soldier.
While Sadiq is a charming dreamer who tugs at your heartstrings, the real story is about Mercer. Mercer is a beautifully fleshed out, complex and deeply layered character, and Jones brings his problematic qualities to light on stage. We see how the expectations of being a soldier have changed him, how he acts despite his own morals and beliefs, and how he suppresses his own feelings and desires out of fear and cowardice.
Staged in a sandpit with audience members on opposing sides, minimal props, and Wesley McKenzie’s tormenting sound design of gunshots and warplanes, this show is an asset to Factory’s Naked Season.
It isn’t pretty, and it shouldn’t be. It’s a raw and ugly story that needs to be told.
A Line in the Sand runs at Factory Theatre until March 27. For more information, visit www.factorytheatre.ca.