BY JOSH KENNEDY
Students at the University of Waterloo got to see a different side of the Iraq war with a showing of the play, The Widow: a Portrait of Love and Upheaval in Iraq, which played on March 31 at the school’s Theatre of the Arts.
The Widow centres on Nour, a widowed woman living in Iraq during the 2003 war, who falls in love with Samir, a young outspoken teacher, and soon starts an affair with him. Samir is then forced to flee Iraq after he receives threats from a religious militia group, leaving Nour to deal with all of the consequences on her own. Three months go by and Samir is now a jobless refugee living in Canada who tries to return to Iraq so that he can be with Nour, despite the warnings from his family.
The play was written by Amir Al-Azraki, who is a lecturer in the Studies in Islam course at Renison University College at the University of Waterloo. He based the play on a story told to him by one of his colleagues back in 2006.
“The play explores a forbidden love story that talks about taboo topics like abortion and young love,” Al-Azraki said. “It also shows that it wasn’t just the invasion from the Americans that caused problems for Iraq and their society.”
The Widow first debuted last summer at Summerworks 2014 in Toronto and received rave reviews. Torontoist Magazine ranked it No. 2 in their “Ten Favourite Things from Summerworks 2014” list. NOW Magazine gave it four stars and called it, “A gripping, heart-wrenching drama about forbidden love in present day Basra,” and “A badly needed snapshot of the struggles faced by moderate Iraqis.”
“The well-written script by Amir Al-Azarki had me intrigued, in tears and at the edge of my seat. A thought-provoking, powerfully written, well-performed play,” said Ashima Suri, a critic for Mooney on Theatre.
Over 50 students attended the play and were moved by how powerful its message was, giving it a standing ovation.
The Widow is an emotional story that shows the hardships people in Iraq must go through everyday and how something as simple as falling in love can be a death sentence.