The horrific reportage of gay men in the Middle East thrown from tall buildings as a method of execution by Islamic State stunned even those who thought they were inured to ISIS torture and brutality on the nightly news. But behind the headlines is a wider story of the experience of gay Iraqi refugees, desperate to escape the mass killings in their homeland.
Based on British playwright Douglas Rintoul’s verbatim interviews with gay refugee survivors and inspired by images from photojournalist Bradley Secker, Elegy is a lyrical, searing exploration of loss, displacement and a longing for home.
Performed as a one-act solo piece by Gareth Reeves, his character’s tentative first steps exploring his sexuality give way to a story of civic disintegration as his ‘post-liberation’ country sees militant groups transform his city from a place of safety to one of shocking violence and brutality. As his friends – other gay men – are tortured and murdered he attempts to escape to the refuge of the west, only to be met with apathy and hostility towards refugees.
An immediate critical and audience success following its 2016 premiere at Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival, Elegy is a lament for those left behind and a shattering wake-up call to western audiences; a human face behind the abstracted headlines and Australia’s ‘refugee problem’.
“This disconcertingly powerful work brings its audience so close that it’s impossible to keep the story at a safe or forgettable distance.” – The Sydney Morning Herald
“The play is an exploration of the human loss linking us all, regardless of our religion or politics.” – Arts Review
“Exposing truths as appalling and relevant as those illuminated in this play is at the heart of what great theatre should strive to achieve.” – Limelight