The Land’s Heart Is Greater Than Its Map at the Barbican
Don a set of headphones and take a guided walking tour around the Barbican and imagine the sights as those of a distant city – this is The Land’s Heart is Greater Than Its Map, an innovative new show co-created by Ramzi Maqdisi and Olivia Furber.
The piece is about a resident of the far-off city taking the audience to significant spots and unveiling the story of himself, his people and his land. The audience follows Ramzi around the Barbican estate, making stops along the way to listen to his tale through headphones. It’s a lovely little well-produced production, offering audiences something a bit different this summer. The story is nicely written with some emotional highs and lows and plenty of mystique and intrigue.
Nonetheless, some parts work better than others and the show has some kinks to work through. The better parts are when the voice in the headphones really describes what the audience is meant to be looking at, fuelling a more vivid imagination, because of course it’s not what they’re really looking at. At various stops the descriptive language falls away and the audience are left with just the bold sights of the Barbican. The strange and stunning surroundings then take over, eclipsing the story.
There’s also an odd moment in the script where, right at the beginning, the tour guide (the voice of Tony Bell) mentions how his accent must give away that he’s not from around here (i.e London) – only Bell has perhaps the most local accent possible. It really begs the question: why didn’t they use a Middle Eastern actor, or at least change that line of the script?
The Land’s Heart is Greater Than Its Map is an interesting, heartfelt show. There are a few small issues but the overall concept is intriguing enough to push past them so that the audience can enjoy the walk. Plus, a stroll around the ugly beauty of the Barbican is never a bad thing.
The Land’s Heart Is Greater Than Its Map is at the Barbican from 25th June until 4th July 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.