One Who Wants To Cross by Marc-Emmanuel Soriano – translated by Amanda Gann. The Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 to 25 February 2023. 4****. William Russell.

Dramatically inert it may be but as a testimony to what happens to migrants works powerfully in this fine production directed by Alice Hamilton. There is a stunningly simple set by Sarah Beaton, a slender mirrored triangle backed by a vast blank wall on top of and around which the two protagonists – one the narrator telling the migrants story, the other being the people who facilitate, exploit and abandon them – perform. It is one of the most striking uses of the Finborough space I have seen in ages. Plays needs structure, an arc and Soriano has come up with something closer to a witness statement, a fragment of documentary perhaps. It is described as a meditation and certainly the piece, getting its UK premiere, deserves its stars but not as a play or indeed a piece of theatre although Hamilton has worked wonders to make it one. Wisdom Iheamo as the narrator, the migrant whoever he may be, wherever he may come from, and Ola Teniola as everyone else are remarkable if not always completely clear of speech. Iheamo has a splendid sonorous voice but clarity is sometimes lacking. There is no reason why the migrant should speak clearly, the confusion of speech, the inability to explain why they have taken this voyage to authority is all part of the real experience, but one needs to follow the voices as it were to get the multitude of stories he is telling. But in many ways the piece, which has been successfully performed in France, proves an unforgettable, powerful and deeply disturbing evening.

Narrator: Wisdom Iheamo.

Musician Performer: Ola Teniola.

Director: Alice Hamilton.

Set and Costume Design: Sarah Neaton.

Lighting Designer: Jamie Platt.

Sound Designer: David Balfour.

Production phtography: Ali Wright.

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