The Yard Theatre
Reviewed – 13th March 2018
“a beautiful elision of the comic and the tragic, the everyday and the fantastical”
Five of them left a country they could no longer live in, only Nur and Jaden made it here. Baby Aya wears a bright pink helmet to make her head round again, after it has been misshapen by sleeping in a buggy – they can’t afford a cot. Nur (Hoda Bentaher) spends most days at college, trying to make a better life for the three of them. Whilst Nur is out, Aya is looked after by Jaden (Noof McEwan), who describes himself as a “drug addict, refugee, can’t speak English”. Who could resist that on a dating profile, he muses. He is addicted to “leaves”, but each trip plagues him with visions of his lost wife, Yusrah, stuck inside baby Aya, and as he begins to chew more and more, the boundary between their everyday reality and his surrealist delusions begins to waver.
Baby Aya is played by grown adult, Jasmine Jones, whose characterisation is smart, funny and sharp, whilst still managing to remain always convincing as a baby. She is more insightful in her shrewd commentary than her parental figures, but hopelessly dependent upon them. In fact there isn’t a weak link across these performances. Bentaher and McEwan excel, as they move further and further apart.
The set is flawless. A one eyed bunny, a hovering wardrobe, white plastic chair to match white plastic fridge, an expanse of light pink carpet and a hula hoop in the corner. And almost out of eye’s reach, the axe hanging way up high on the wall under a sign that reads “In Case of Emergency’. The piece is impeccably designed all round, from the fantastically creative set by Max Johns, which works beautifully with Jess Bernberg’s excellent lighting design, to the ominous sound, composed and designed by Giles Thomas.
There is a danger at times that we lose the issues in this sense of surrealist spectacle, the severity of the situation dulled over and over by an element of play. However it is more likely that these issues get lost in each other as we weave from being a refugee, to a single mother, onto a drug addict, onto abuse, poverty, homelessness and PTSD. We are left with a sense of important issues being present, without them being tangibly discussed or resolved. That being said it is also an unfortunately necessary reminder that these issues do intersect, and that refugees are parents, students, addicts alike. It is certainly a refreshing, funny and engaging take on the refugee crisis and the ramifications of the lack of support for refugees.
This piece is a beautiful elision of the comic and the tragic, the everyday and the fantastical, and a definite must-see.
Reviewed by Amelia Brown
Photography by The Other Richard
The Yard Theatre until 31st March