Here are the reviews that I’ve collected so far from online and fb and twitter
Originally from Christopher Owen via ThePublicReviews.com: ” Taking the form of a migrant accountant living (or not as the case may be) his dream in Peckham, Jamie Zubairi takes us through a journey where we learn how empty a life feels in London as a Malaysian man, feeling he does not belong and has no real identity.
We join Dolah as he is pursued by a ghost like presence who delivers him to places of his past, both emotionally and family related – with similarities to a Christmas carol. From the place where his grandma was born to a park around the corner from where he used to work, in which he has never stepped foot, he is shown what should be important and how to find what should matter to himself. Not money or time but emotions and identity, and when it comes to it, an intriguing relationship between himself and a client develops in a way he never expected.
Clever direction by Kath Burlinson and suitably stylised movement and Balinese choreography by Mina Aidoo and Ni Made Pujawati respectively, mean that the show zips along at a delightful pace. Multi character scenes never seem pushed but develop naturally and never leave you confused.
Mixing poetry, dance, painting and (a very sweet and moving use of) puppetry, Jamie Zubari holds the audience in this gripping and often laugh out loud funny play utilising all skills in his skill set. A true display of what a one man play can be and how it can have a deep effect on your thoughts, he performs with accuracy and is grounded throughout this hour of non-stop storytelling. Showing he is not only adept with different vocal techniques or accents but styles of movement and artistry he makes you feel at ease and irons out any awkwardness that can often surface when watching a solo performer in such an intimate stage space. You feel wholly involved in this tale and can relate not only to feelings, but also to time and location. An assured performance by a charming and honest performer, this is a lovely alternative to the usual festive offerings that the London fringe has. With interesting choreography and direction, the hour simply flies by. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and the funding platform WeFund, this is a perfect example of new work being supported in the right way by the public, and the powers that be recognising the potential in an artist that deserves to be seen by a much wider audience
Runs until 15th December”
Originally printed in AYoungerTheatre.com by Daniel Janes: “Dolah, the protagonist of Unbroken Line, is having an identity crisis. A trainee accountant transplanted to Peckham from his native Malaysia, he’s not sure where his allegiances lie: “I have a Malaysian head that tells me one thing and a British heart that tells me another”. However, while Dolah is confused and uncertain, this sure-footed, big-hearted debutemphatically is not.
Unbroken Line is the debut play from Anglo-Malay actor Jamie Zubairi, whose mixed media projects straddle the line between theatre and art; most recently, he was a participant in These Associations, Tino Sehgal’s commission at the Tate Modern Turbine Hall in which actors approached spectators with their stories. There, he was one of a swarm of about 300 performers. Here, he has a whole space to himself – the upstairs studio of Kennington’s lovely Ovalhouse Theatre – a space which he delightfully dominates.
In this one-man show, Zubairi draws on his interdisciplinary talents economically but effectively. There are two main characters in addition to Dolah, and both of them gain from the use of mixed media. One is Joe, a successful Northern Irish painter; Dolah visits Joe, a former client, amid the elemental terrain of the Giant’s Causeway in order to work out issues surrounding his stifled creativity and sexuality. Here, Zubairi uses live painting, and a tender scene in which Joe and Dolah paint a canvas together is one of the play’s high points. The other character is Wira, a mythical warrior who acts as Dolah’s spiritual advisor, counselling him on how best to reconcile his European tendencies with his Malay roots. This device allows Zubairi to incorporate Balinese dance, choreographed by Mina Aidoo and Ni Made Pujawati; the dance acts as an anchor both for us and Dolah, ensuring that the spectre of Southeast Asia is never far away.
Unbroken Line has been in development for more than two years; an early form of the piece, Skylarking, was performed at the North Devon Theatre Festival in late 2010. Then, the play was busier and had a more unwieldy cast of characters, but the core tale – the personal crisis of Dolah the accountant – remained the same. Since that time, however, one development has given Zubairi’s creation a sense of urgency. One of the most shocking moments of the 2011 London riots was the assault on Ashraf Rossli (sic), a Malaysian student: he was crouching on the floor after an attack at knifepoint, only to be mugged by two men who appeared to be coming to his aid. Though Zubairi makes only one mention of Rossli, it is a significant moment: he weaves the incident brilliantly into wider themes about the hostility of London’s urban environment. One particular detail provides a crowning stroke: Rossli (sic), too, had been studying accountancy.
Some of the play’s sentiments could easily have become prosaic; Wira’s advice to Dolah includes being himself, finding the beauty in the commonplace and looking out for acts of tenderness around him. However, Zubairi’s honesty, humour and sense of wonder ensure that this never happens.
The Christmas theatre season is traditionally a fallow period, with pantomimes and strained festive cheer pushing out more thoughtful, personal pieces. In this climate, Unbroken Line is a beacon amid the fog. What’s more – with its energy, its essential optimism and even, in one touching instant, puppetry – it proves to be surprisingly festive itself.
Unbroken Line continues at Ovalhouse until 15 December. More information can be found on the Ovalhouse website.” (Zooby’s note: Daniel has since been informed about the misnaming of Ashraf Haziq (the student who was attacked) and Ariff Rosli who is the Malaysian man ‘all over the internet for marrying a man’. This may appear in later edits)
From Rebecca Hussein in WhatsOnStage.com: “There is something very hypnotic about watching Jamie Zubairi paint. After the inexhaustible energy with which he has carried us through the past hour, this moment of calm reflects the resolution of a conflict he has wrestled with ever since moving to London from his native Malaysia. Taking on the character of Dolah, this very personal piece allows Zubairi to explore his very modern identity crisis through a one man show that embraces all forms of art, glorying in its painting, puppetry and dance.
Much of the production relies on Zubairi’s natural charm and, as he warmly shakes audience members’ hands, one would never suspect that we were in fact inside the Oval House Theatre and not the tiny flat in Peckham that he refers to as home. Zubairi’s child like energy is infectious, his love for the art forms he brings together palpable. His physicality as he combines both his cultures are light footed and celebratory and his use of puppets particularly moving.
It would be easy to dismiss his portray of his own lost heritage, a caricature of a wise, exotic spirit, as simplistic and frivolous. And yet, the tone of this production is one of such optimism and glee that one cannot help but be swept up into it. This strange and often comical spirit whisks Dolah away to a place far beyond Malaysia and yet closer to home for him through the presence of a loved one, therefore cementing the idea that we are anchored to people, not places. If it is intensity and provocation you desire, Unbroken Line is not for you and yet this sweet natured production will bowl you over with the charm of its star and his unyielding optimism towards love and home.”
From What’sPeenSeen by Kirstie Relph:
“Unbroken Line is a solo project, which fuses spoken word theatre, live painting and Balinese dance. The comic physical theatre piece is supported by the Arts Council England, exploring Jamie Zubairi’s dreamlike world in which he plays multiple characters. The venture is amiable and ambitious, effectively depicting Malayan foreigner Dolah exploring London via a mythical warrior Wirrah, who takes him on a wider journey in search of who he is, what he is and, ultimately, how he might make sense of his life. However, the success of the artistic vision of the piece ultimately suffers from its ambitiousness somewhat.
As an established actor, artist, poet and theatre maker, Zubairi’s performance was technically sound and well executed. The performance space was a small studio black room, which posed itself as a very intimate and therefore challenging space. The actor worked well with this dynamic and it also engaged the audience on a much more sophisticated level. Part of the vibrancy of the performance was achieved through the effective physicality Zubairi brought so close to us. There were moments where the actor brushed past my legs and winked or nodded towards a certain audience member during his topical, comic asides about modern London life; these were effective in engaging the audience in a performance which demanded one hundred percent of our attention. This is especially true because of the dreamlike, surreal dynamic of Dolah’s story. The performance was certainly a great insight into the rich cultural fabric of Malaysia and the history of Malayans such as Dolah. The Anglo-side of Dolah’s heritage was less explored which proved a considerable weakness to the overall plot. Although, at the end, Dolah meets Northern Irish friend Joe, whose presence merely introduced Dolah to the discovery of his artistic potential, and not much else.
The painting included in the performance proved to be one of the cleverer elements of the performance. This scene uncovered the first sign of Dolah discovering his identity, and definitely developed him as a character in a much more three dimensional way, something which was slightly lacking before this stage. At this point we were rooting for Dolah, who finally saw an end to his personal crisis. The usage of puppetry was the highlight of the show, depicting an older couple in a park scene where Dolah was confessing his deepest feelings to the spirit, Wirrah; this moment encapsulated a brief moment of contentment which signified a turn towards this in Dolah’s story, I think. The Balinese dance did appear slightly rough around the edges and unpracticed but was a very interesting and welcome addition to the physical texturing of the whole performance.
The performance overall was extremely engaging and vibrant. We were committed to following Dolah’s journey and increasingly began to understand a very different culture from that of London. Sadly, the background of Dolah and how he came to London was rushed through and the coming out of the character towards the end of the play complicates an already dense hour-long performance. The homosexuality of Dolah is intended to further enhance his disillusionment and feelings of marginalisation in an alien culture; but it seems to have been a hasty afterthought. Having said this, I would certainly recommend this performance, which is an inspiring one-man show.”