Entering to Adele’s Someone Like You, the audience are greeted by a pair of legs sticking out from under a duvet which occasionally twists and repositions itself. An alarm rings but Leyla still has to be harangued from off stage to get up. Even then she is too reluctant to shake off the duvet, shambling towards the audience like an exaggerated monster. In a breathtaking fifty minute performance (over all too quickly), Leyla questions what we have to get up for.
From consumerism to the fakery of Hollywood via music we enjoy because it makes us feel good whilst making us cry (hence Adele), Leyla asks “Why is disaster so sexy?” The answers are not easy and teased out through a comparison of her own family heritage with the plight facing refugees. Occasionally rapping, occasionally interacting with the crowd like a stand up comedian and occasionally no longer being able to face it all and crawling back to bed, she is always magnificent. The ability to stun the audience to tearful silence moments after having them laughing heartily is a skill that is deployed expertly.
Although dealing with heavy and bleak themes, the simplicity of how they are presented strikes the perfect balance of being thought-provoking without being preachy. Inclusion of specific events (such as the death of Alan Kurdi) are never exploitative or crass. This is really all about Leyla’s delivery of the material; there are no visual gimmicks to distract from the words. A heady blend of the personal and political, all seamlessly woven together and bound by a simple narrative thread looking at the elements that make us human, Hopeless is a poignant and insightful examination of where we come from and where we are going.