by Tess Berry-Hart.
Studio 2, The Arcola to 06 August
24 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London E8 3DL to 6 August 2016.
Mon –Sat 8pm. Mat Sat 3.30pm.
Runs 80 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7503 1646
Review: William Russell 8 June.
Challenging tale about the asylum crisis
Tess Berry-Hart has come up with a highly topical, gripping play in which we follow four refugees travelling in a container on a ship to what they think is the promised land. It is not, however, the land one expects.
Although a powerful and thought provoking piece, it does proceed along the kind of plot and character tramlines inherent to thrillers. Someone is not what they seem, someone will have a weapon, someone will try to use it, the lights will go out at a crucial moment and so on.
The four characters are also essentially from stock; they represent a refugee stereotype rather than have lives of their own. That is not to blame the cast, because given the roles they perform them very well indeed and director David Mercateli has screwed up the tension as time passes to great effect.
Rather that somewhere there is a more interesting collection of people than this lot about whose fates one would feel concern, while as a thriller the obligatory cuckoo in the nest is obvious from the start.
The play opens the pitch dark, a truly suffocating experience, and only gradually is light introduced as torches are produced and the companions consigned to the container start to try to find out why they are together, conversations in which the audience is closely engaged because it is seated inside the container with them. Designer Max Dorey has transformed Studio 2 into one huge container although the benches are hideously uncomfortable. Studio 2 is not the most comfortable venue at the best of times, but this is worse than usual.
There is a McGuffin, a basic requirement of all thrillers, which I am not going to reveal, although it is probably not all that difficult to guess what it is. That said this is an interesting and challenging play about the plight of refugees seeking asylum and discovering hell.
Iz: Jack Gouldbourne.
Sarah: Debbie Korley.
Kayffe: John Schwab.
Joey: Milly Thomas.
Director: David Mercatali.
Assistant Director: Max Lindsay.
Designer: Max Dorey.
Lighting Designer: Christopher Nairne.
Sound Designer: Max Pappenheim.