When Abel Met Cain

A dark fantasy inspired by the Israel-Palestinian conflict

By Lee Levitt, August 15, 2011

A nugget of a show, this, inspired by the Israel-Palestinian conflict, which combines biographical, biblical and mythological elements, and sprinkles in a measure of dark fantasy.

Sussex-based storyteller Raphael Rodan, who was born in the Galilee, and Battersea-based composer Anastasis Sarakatsanos, who was born in Greece, forge a magical, musical union with their Greek, Hebrew and Sicilian folk songs of pure love, sibling rivalry, the ravages of war, the "sweet smell of death" and the afterlife.

Rodan, his eyes gleaming and his long black hair tied at the back, has a transfixing air as he sings, then laughs hysterically, accompanying himself on the guitar and framed drum, which he plays, Eastern-style, with his fingers; while the shaven-haired, elegiac Sarakatsanos plucks away at the haunting-sounding kanun, a microtonal Middle Eastern instrument similar to the zither and harp.

The stories range from Rodan's seminal meeting, aged five, with a wooden-legged, ambiguously self-proclaimed "Six Day War hero" to a bloody battle scene in which both sides were told they were in the right.

Rodan aims to use storytelling to overcome conflicts and to bring Jews and Arabs together.

"I believe the power of the story can strip down nationality to reach a place that is more humane," he said after the show, whose setting seemed peculiarly apt.

Paradise in the Vault, until Aug 28, not Aug 15, 22

Last updated: 9:24am, August 15 2011