The world premiere of Makram Ayache’s The Hooves Belonged to the Deer is on stage right now at Tarragon Theatre. Produced in association with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, this is one of the most powerful pieces of theatre I think I’ve ever witnessed. With brilliant direction by Peter Hinton-Davis and stunning design by Anahita Dehbonehie and Whittyn Jason, The Hooves Belonged to the Deer is without a doubt a must-see production this spring.
The set design for this production is certainly one of the must unique sets I think I’ve ever seen. The floor is covered in a paprika-red sand, brightly lit by the round opening which dangles above the stage, and at the foot of the stage is a trough full of water. These elements, and more, allow for a fluid movement through the space and I loved how the sand was used in particular. It was magical at times watching the light dance off of the water, and the scrim at the back of the stage made for enchanting shadow-play. Visually, this production is stellar, with each element precise and meaningful.
Author Makram Ayache stars as Izzy, a young Druze/Muslim man who begins to question both his sexuality and his religion when he starts going to a Christian youth centre. Ayache gives a brilliant performance; full of vulnerability and passion, Ayache allows us to understand and feel deeply for Izzy. Eric Wigston plays Will, Izzy’s boyfriend. Wigston does an incredible job with Will; he gives Will a genuine and compassionate nature, making the audience fall in love with him as well as Izzy. Noor Hamdi and Bahareh Yaraghi play Aadam and Hawa (Eve). They not only provide insight into Izzy’s state of mind, but also a potential narrative for how Izzy would like his life to go. Hamdi and Yaraghi are brilliant; they switch between their characters with ease and deliver stellar performances. Hamdi’s powerful speech at the end of the play, which she delivers so effectively, left me shaking; I could only say “wow” for a considerable time once the show had finished. Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski plays both Jake (the pastor’s troubled son) and Steve (Aadam’s love interest). He also navigates these characters with grace and expertise and likewise delivers an impressive performance. His characters operate in such direct relation to Ayache’s as both Steve and Jake provide Izzy with revelations and possibilities. Ryan Hollyman delivers an astounding performance at Pastor Isaac. Hollyman made me feel like Pastor Isaac doens’t doubt a single word he says, and the more we find out about the pastor the more impressive Hollyman’s performance becomes.
When I first heard about this show and that it was playing on the whole “it’s Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve” argument, I was delighted; that little saying has never truly resonated with me. What did resonate was The Hooves Belonged to the Deer in all of its powerful glory. This is a poignant work that I think everyone needs to see. For more information and tickets, visit: https://www.tarragontheatre.com/plays/the-hooves-belonged-to-the-deer/
(L-R) , Noor Hamdi, Ryan Hollyman, , Bahareh Yaraghi, Makram Ayache, Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski and Eric Wigston in The Hooves Belonged to the Deer – Tarragon Theatre 2023 – Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann