(seen at the afternoon preview performance on 21st June 2018).
When a theatre is transformed for a specific reason, it’s a good bet that the
producers believe they are on to something special enough to justify the
expense. In this case, they are partially right. This is an event that must be
experienced, and it is pretty much worth braving the discomforts of benches and
cushions on the café floor to be a part of it.
Framed by the court order to
demolish part of the slum “Jungle” that is home to a multitude of refugees, this
is a slice of community life most of us will never see and are pretty incapable
The first half is the better by far. Some British “aid workers”
arrive with various intentions – build tent homes, start a school, look after
the children, clown around and escape life back home. The most important lesson
comes early, when we are abruptly reminded that behind every victim is a very
real and educated person in a situation as unimaginable to themselves as us.
The rest of the act is similar. A smorgasbord of stories, experiences and
perceptions. Examine, challenge, understand, learn. It’s effective and
engrossing, the only failures being when the action stops for a lecture or
harangue. Sadly, writers Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson and directors Stephen
Daldry and Justin Martin appear oblivious to this...
... Resulting in a second
act that is mostly lecture and “heck, we should now bring in some stories to
shape and underline our point and make us a proper play.” The credible
experience dissipates fast, and the whole suddenly becomes drawn out and
There’s some decent performances – Gerard Carey (Boxer) is
amusing, Alexander Devrient makes a chilling police officer, Moein Ghobsheh (Omid)
a good debut. Some of the writing is impactful too, and the atmosphere is worth
the sampling. It is, though, very much a performance of two halves – with the
distinct feeling that there is a far sharper production in there, if someone is
able to dig for it.