Miray Sidhom is a brilliant storyteller. That becomes increasingly clear throughout this production of The Bread We Break at Contact Theatre. She captures the essence of Egypt through clever projections behind her set and through the incredible live performance of Medhat Elmasry, who plays a drum and tambourine through the show and creates a flowing structure to Miray’s words.
Miray draws on bread as a metaphor but also as a physical representation of the struggles Egypt has faced in the past and still does today. A consistent message throughout is ‘bread is life’ and the audience are able to understand that by the end of the show. Miray goes through the history of bread and its origins in Egypt and tells the story chronologically which allows us to feel like we’re on a journey with her through her culture.
The set is unusual with different shaped patches on the ground in an oval shape. This set soon makes sense as Miray uses it to enhance her movement throughout, creating an authentic feeling of being transported to a place that many of us do not know. On one side of the stage is a microphone and audio system – which juxtaposes the sand and flour spread out around it. Miray uses this to create a live audio loop, creating a raw, personable emotion that adds to the audience engagement. Miray comes across completely calm and composed throughout this process. The only downside is the looped audio sometimes overshadows Miray’s words, taking attention away from her and towards the sound system instead.
The physical movement – directed by Mele Broomes – is a key part of this show and it is clear Miray is paying homage to her heritage and culture with the care and detail that has gone into it. Every outstretched leg and uplifted arm seems to have a purpose and the changing tempo of the accompanying drums complements Miray perfectly.
The Bread We Break offers an engaging and important view of how the simplest and most taken for granted items can have impact and create change. And as her story weaves between personal and political we are invited to think about how everyday aspects of our lives cam be politicised and controlled. Given the current conflicts around the world it feels even more important to have these conversations and open our minds to other cultures and issues. Miray gives a great performance and has a charm and power to her words that keeps the audience hooked the entire time.