Photo credit: Dahlia Katz

A Line in the Sand

By Guillermo Verdecchia & Marcus Youssef

In the autumn of 1990, during Operation Desert Storm, two young men, one a troubled Canadian soldier, the other a teenage Palestinian black-marketeer, meet in the scorched Qatari desert. Breaching the divide of a profound cultural misunderstanding and against a backdrop of massive global conflict, these two become unlikely and secret friends. This tenuous friendship is severed by the torture and murder of the 16-year-old Palestinian inside the Canadian base—an act to which the Canadian soldier was at least a witness and perhaps a willing participant.

Inspired in part by L’Etranger by Albert Camus and the actions of Canadian soldiers stationed in Somalia in the early 1990’s, A Line in the Sand anticipated the now seemingly endless wars in Iraq and Syria, as well as events like Abu Ghraib. The play rips the benevolent mask off western interventions in the middle east and tells an achingly personal story about two almost children implicated in horrors perpetrated with our money, in our names and by people like us.

With the support of Factory Theatre, the text was updated for the 2016 production.

Over the course of seven sharp scenes... both Mercer and Sadiq become more complex as they meet to exchange purple Canadian dollars for pornographic photographs and gradually let their guards down. Their politics and perception of America, in particular, may surprise you. Eventually, the displaced Palestinian’s carefully contained anger erupts – and the Canadian’s submerged feeling of superiority rises to the surface … shocking, in a subtle way.

Globe and MailJ. Kelly Nestruck

A reference to the then-recent Oka crisis creates provocative parallels between the Israel/Palestine divide and the ongoing effects of North American colonization. … (In 2016) 'A Line in the Sand' inarguably remains relevant. Given its content, it seems likely that Verdecchia and Youssef will celebrate the day when this play doesn’t need another revival.

Toronto Star

The military’s shame is the Segal Centre’s triumph … 'A Line in the Sand' remains a Heart of Darkness warning to us all.

Montreal Gazette

Mesmerizing … compelling and ambiguous … Verdecchia and Youssef pull off the tricky task of crafting a complex interpersonal drama that is also a potent allegory.

Toronto Star

… a painfully honest and real narrative that hits close to home. The resulting consequences of their friendship force the audience to take a closer look at Canada's role in the war … intense, intimate and heartbreaking.

Broadway World

Production Details

3 Male

100 minutes including one intermission (2 Acts)

By Guillermo Verdecchia & Marcus Youssef

Purchase Play Script

Production History

1995 – New Play Centre, Vancouver, BC

1996 – Tarragon Theatre & du Maurier World Stage Festival, Toronto ON

2004 – Teatro San Marco, Venice, IT

2010 – Table du Haute Theatre/Segal Centre, Montreal, QC

2016 – Factory Theatre, Toronto ON

A Factory Theatre production, design by


1997 – Chalmers Canadian Play Award

2010 – Mecca Awards (Actor, Actress, Set)

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