Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh ****
The very existence of the Jenin Freedom Theatre, where Thomas and his friend, comedy tutor Dr Sam Beale, run their class, and the 2011 assassination of its founder Juliano Mer Khamis by a killer unknown, affords some insight into tensions within the camp. The onerous atmosphere of judgement inhibits some of the students, who refrain from delivering some of their more potent material for fear of causing offence. Nevertheless, theirs’ is necessarily a radical discourse and Shehada and Abualheja play with patronising Western perceptions of refugees by admitting to owning iPhones.
If the first half of the play is scene-setting and the second opens with the trio inhabiting the fogeyishly disapproving views of the Palestinian National Authority, when Shehada and Abualheja are left to simply perform their stand-up, it’s exhilarating - the haranguing of the former’s overbearing mother and the erotic potential of enforced curfew vitalised by the audience’s knowledge of the political stakes. Defiant and winningly mischievous, Showtime from the Frontline laughs hard at authoritarianism.