WELCOME TO THE UK
Music & songs Tamara Astor.
The Bunker, 53A Southwark Street, London SE1 1PU to 16 February 2019.
Tues-Sat 7.30 pm Mat Tues & Sat 3pm.
Runs 1hr 25 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 0207 234 0486
Review: William Russell 28 January.
Theatre of the absurd, the heartless, the lost
Borderline is a unique theatre ensemble founded three years ago to raise awareness about the plight of refugees and change the way they are often seen. Two years ago they created Borderline, a satire of the Calais jungle, and now they are back with this new devised performance. It is set in a funfair, and a genial host ringmaster welcomes us to the UK and invites us to sit back, blow up a balloon- handily provided on our seats – containing our hopes and wishes, toss them into the ring and listen to the stories the performers have to tell.
It is a project to admire, some of the performers are real refugees and appearing can lead to better things. The result, however, is a mess of badly staged scenes, some last too long, some simply limp to no conclusion, some are performed with precision, in some, about which the less said the better, are buried moments of genuine excitement and revelation. That director Sophie NL BESSE has the best of intentions is not in doubt; that the cast are deeply committed is clear; and these are voices that need to be heard. But they are muffled in the confusion raging on stage, targets are set up and missed, and some are in any case sitting ducks not rally worth the effort.
It is a neat touch to have a Mary Poppins flying around with a fairy light bedecked umbrella doing good regardless, but having Harry and Meghan wearing crowns strutting around waving regally is unfair to a pair of well meaning people trying to justify their place in society. On the other hand the bureaucratic nightmare of getting a passport, of how to achieve all that is required in the 28 days after permission to stay is granted, of the being pushed to the back of a queue by jobsworths running offices incompetently because one is late through no fault of oneself, of people trafficked here are all there beneath the theatrical dross piled on top of their stories.
Perhaps the thing to do is stay for the after show discussions when clarity may reign. The aims are admirable, but what is happening on stage, where there is talent in abundance, needs to controlled, disciplined and directed if it is to achieve those aims. The stars are for effort and good intentions.
Mohand Hasb Airsol Badr.
Abd-Al Rehman Slama.
Director Sophie NL Besse.
Movement Director: Peter Pearson.
Set Design: Sayed Habib Sadat & ioana Curelea.
Lighting Design: Sophie NL Besse.
Costume Design: Clare Copland.
Production Photography@ Jose Farinha.