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Review: Faceless, at Park 90 Theatre

True story of teenager who befriends an ISIS terrorist via Twitter is beautifully plotted and features terrific performances

30 April, 2018 — By Lucy Popescu

Photo: Pete Le May

INSPIRED by a true story, Faceless follows the trial of Susie Glenn (Fiona Gent), an American teenager who befriends an ISIS terrorist via Twitter and converts to Islam online. Groomed by the fighter, Susie intends to join him in Syria as his bride, but is turned in by her father.

Selina Fillinger’s compelling drama follows the court battle in which Susie is condemned as an enemy of the state and faces 20 years in a federal prison. She is prosecuted by Claire Fathi (Paige Round), evidently picked by her law firm because she is a proud, hijab-wearing Muslim of Iranian-French descent. In an equally tactical move, Susie’s defence lawyer is Jewish.

Susie, her blonde hair only partially covered by a hijab, is initially unrepentant. Just 18, she is hopelessly naïve. Infuriated by Susie’s lack of understanding and misrepresentation of her religion, Claire refers to her as a “Muslim Barbie”. Gradually, we learn that Susie is grieving the loss of her mum (a police officer killed in the line of duty) and that her actions may have been the result of depression.

It’s beautifully plotted and the performances are terrific. Susie’s stricken father, Alan (Fearon McElroy), is the most sympathetic. Gent also impresses because of her ability to move us from frustration at the beginning to compassion by the end.

Faceless is played out on a bare stage. Indications of the various locations are projected onto the back wall. Prav MJ’s decision to have the actors face outward jars at first, until we realise that the audience represent judge and jury.

UNTIL 12 MAY 2018
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