OUT OF SPITE: Tales of survival in sarajevo, Stage Left Theatre. The diary format, with its inherently discursive structure, isn’t particularly well suited to drama, but this collection of letters and journal entries by Elma Softic, a journalist and philosophy instructor, effectively demonstrates the quotidian struggles of those living under siege in Sarajevo. Adapted from Softic’s book Sarajevo Days, Sarajevo Nights, this 100-minute one-woman show chronicles a sudden and shocking transition from a comfortable middle-class life to one where food, water, and electricity are scarce and misery and death are omnipresent.
Throughout the tales of snipers gunning down Sarajevans in the streets and citizens huddling in apartments surrounded by the stench of human waste, Softic maintains a sprightly sense of humor and an inspiring sense of rage. At times her observations seem somewhat simplistic given her intellectual background (“This city of mine is changing too fast and too radically”), and her daily entries are often too brief to give historical or philosophical explanations for the horrors she endures. But in illuminating the life of a single, ordinary Sarajevan, this show makes her fight for survival immediate and compelling.
Out of Spite succeeds not on the basis of a traditional dramatic payoff, but on the accumulation of small truths and subtly rendered moments. Stage Left’s production is pitch-perfect, and a powerful and superbly nuanced performance from Marguerite Hammersley makes even the most detailed and prosaic of Softic’s accounts resound with truth. –Adam Langer