Closed Lands: LegalAliens and Exchange Theatre: Vaults Theatre, London to 8th March 2020: 3***. Review Mark Courtice.

Closed Lands 

Directed by Becka McFadden 

Associate director Jonathan Millington 

Written by Simon Grangeat 

Translated by Laure Fernandez and LegalAliens 

Lighting and Projection by Julien Bernard-Grau 




The Vaults (Cage), Leake Street, London SE1 7NN 

3rd – 8th March 2020, 6.15pm, 3.10pm matinee Sat 

Tue – Wed £12, Thur – Sun £13 | 0208 050 9241 

Runs 40 minutes no interval 

Review Mark Courtice 3rd March 2020 




As the company limber up British politicians talk about their new plans for immigration on an audio loop. This may be a play about the fashion for walls closing off lands across the world but it’s also about here and now. No matter how many divides and barriers our populists build, we’re all in this together and every cruelty and meanness to migrants diminishes us all. 

Five women carefully explain how the walls (and their sea borne and virtual equivalents) operate. Projected onto the wall, an old-fashioned video game grainily reflects the random nature of it all; new targets will inevitably replace those that the authorities knock out. Of course, this isn’t a game. The show is detailed and explicit about the danger, the losses, the near impossibility of escaping to a new country. There’s a shocking sequence of the bureaucratic brutality of the instructions for forcing someone onto a plane to return them, and the desperate, undignified ways to avoid being taken.  

The text packs a hefty punch although it loses its way towards the end. There’s nothing about the frightening pull of the wall builders, so a Donald Trump impersonation makes us laugh but doesn’t tell us why people vote for him. The production is spare and the projections are low tech – thrown on the grimy walls of the venue or in a tottering wall of boxes at the side of the stage. Stark white costumes come to life with small additions; the people who wear shoes keep out those with bare feet. 

The performances are direct, it feels like they have the tang of lived experience but they are hard to engage with, and often to hear. The episodic structure means that the performances suffer as the actors wait in a blackout for the next scene.  


Luiana Bonfim (Angola/Portugal) 

Catharina Conte (Brazil) 

Daiva Dominyka (Lithuania) 

Becka McFadden (US/UK) 

Lara Parmiani (Italy/UK) 

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