Theatre review: Ruki, C cubed

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Yellow star, pink triangle, brown triangle. These were the badges, stitched to clothing, that marked out the Jewish people, homosexuals and “gypsies” – or Roma people – who were the main victims of the Nazi Holocaust; and it’s the brown triangle that features in this powerful monologue by leading Turkish actor Reha Ozcan, playing briefly at C cubed in the Lawnmarket.

Ruki, C cubed (Venue 50) ***

The story it tells is of a gifted young boxer in the Germany of the 1920s and 1930s who is never allowed to reach his potential because of his gypsy origins; his style is sneered at, his victories are stolen from him, and like so many of Europe’s Roma people, he ends his life in a Nazi death camp.

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The story is told, though, not in Ruki’s own voice, but from the perspective of another boy from the same community who loves him, follows his career, also fights a little, and somehow survives the same terrible death camp to become the old, shuffling street-dweller who talks to us now. Performing in English, Reza Ozcan delivers the show in such a whispered, muffled style that much of the detail of the script is lost. What remains, though, is the outline of an immense untold story, highlighted by powerful images of Germany in the 1930s; and a performance of tremendous presence and poignancy, representing the last fragments of a pre-war Roma people that suffered near total genocide, and the memory of a love that could barely speak its name anywhere 90 years ago, and that in Nazi Germany meant certain death.

• Until 14 August, 8:30pm