Patrick Centre

Birmingham Hippodrome


#JeSuis is the reaction to the oppression of the millions of people who are easily forgotten. Beyond the internet and hashtags of solidarity and public outpours of opinions are real people living without homes, faced with authorities that leave them helpless and without a voice.

Choreographed by Aakash Odedra, the piece is performed and developed by his company of dancers from Turkey. Together they show the support and hope for a universal world.

Every element of the production is intricately considered by Odedra, provoking an intense emotional response to create hope for change.

This is largely due to the fact that the Odedra’s company of dancers are phenomenal performers. It includes Melissa Ugolini, Su Guzey, Beril Senoz, Gizem Aksu, Yasin Anar, Evrim Akyay and Taner Gungor.

The backgrounds of the Turkish dancers have clearly influenced the developmental elements within the striking piece. In its early stages Odedra had ideas of the performance being reaction to the social climate of Turkey and the very people living it.

He then discovered that oppression is not bound to one place or community alone and so the piece that we now see shows oppression which is universal. It also displays a universal hope of not forgetting those who are oppressed in any time or place within the world.

What makes the piece memorable is a remarkable story that is superbly performed. Odedra makes every element serve a purpose from intricate lighting to language and music to highlight the way in which thousands are treated but yet forgotten. In sequences at the start, we hear sounds from a radio with news broadcasts from around the world. We hear a multitude of languages and it is a constant reminder of the harsh reality of people’s daily existence. Indeed, the first image that we see is with a dancer creating panicked movements, as if he is tied up and struggling against a gauze. it creates heavy shadows which then engulf him once the sequence ends.

As the piece progresses, we see emotional and striking sequences of protests as the dancers represent the people and nations of which we are not usually aware of. There is a dancer who takes on the role of ‘The Oppressor’ and the symbolic character is played by the same dancer throughout, which appertains to many striking images of a constant authority that cannot be eliminated.

The performance is charged with sequences where people have no hope, and are constantly under the oppressor’s hold. There are deeply moving images wonderfully portrayed, giving a shocking interpretation of the realities of everyday life for many.

As the piece progresses, Odedra plants within us the seed of hope, in which the people become stronger after facing oppressing tragedies. The music is ethereal, and a theme of spirituality ensues. Even at the end, ‘The Oppressor’ takes off his jacket and throws it to the floor. It is the final image within the piece to give an unbounding hope for change.

Odedra wants to show that the strength within a collective is an exceptionally powerful force. He turns the spotlight to us, a privileged nation, to show that the human race is one unity. It is our duty to know and hear the voices of those who are desperate to speak. Within #JeSuis, the power of universal love and hope for change is a power that must not go unnoticed.

Elizabeth Halpin


Index page Hippodrome Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre