Tag Archives: Tonderai Munyevu

The Claim

The Claim


Shoreditch Town Hall

The Claim

The Claim

Shoreditch Town Hall

Reviewed -20th February 2020



“a tremendous example of when theatre truly can be a powerful mouthpiece and provoke its viewers to want to genuinely act”


Many people seeking asylum in the UK arrive hoping for a new start. They feel Britain will offer them a sense of security they’ve been craving. However, studies have shown that the Home Office’s system of processing asylum seekers is failed, with wrong decisions due to misinformation and language barriers happening regularly, causing dangerous or traumatic effects. The Claim follows one such asylum seeker’s aggravating journey of wanting to be heard and find consummate peace. It’s a compelling tale of injustice, designed to incite change.

Serge (Tonderai Munyevu) wants to tell his story. He wants the trauma of his past to be softened by the assurance of protection and stability in this country. The country he’s hoping to make his permanent home. An office, where co-workers A (Nick Blakeley) and B (Indra Ové) deal with claims of refuge. Claims like Serge’s, A and B’s job demands precision and the truth, however in their process of obtaining it, they ultimately fabricate the answers they want through prejudice and misinterpretation.

It is devastatingly heartbreaking to see the anguish and torment Serge is put in, as he jumps through administrative hoops. Never has the term ‘lost in translation’ been so apparent. Playwright Tim Cowbury allows the audience to feel they are fully standing in Serge’s shoes, experiencing the same infuriation as he, within the same moment. You feel an immense sense of investment in the character Serge, rooting for him throughout and willing his actual truth to be heard and understood. Many hands in heads and sighs of frustration could be seen and heard from the audience members. The play generates this kind of immediate, involuntary response. Cowbury masterfully composes interweaving and intercutting dialogue, with voices overlapping into a cacophony of communication breakdown. As much as the writing deals with deep rooted issues, it is off set with amusing moments and witty lines that make this abstract set play a joy to watch.

The three actors play their distinctive parts excellently. They all have a nimble hold on the complex, fast-paced nature of Cowbury’s dialogue. Munyevu’s vulnerability and desperation as Serge is most stirring. Ové as B is unbearably clinical with her job, yet presents a nuanced subtext that proves that B has had her own issues of discrimination to contend with. Blakeley plays the nervous energy of a liberal white male do-gooder to perfection. A’s ignorance whilst trying to be a saviour is most believable.

Played in the round, with some dialogue breaking the fourth wall, the audience are very much immersed in the action. Sometimes, claustrophobically so, feeling too close for comfort to the action. Another device to make the audience experience the same emotions as the protagonist. A simple block in the centre for a chair and vertical, four-corner strip lighting highlights further the impersonal, inhumane environment of such offices.

This is the most affecting piece of performance I have seen in recent time. The Claim is a tremendous example of when theatre truly can be a powerful mouthpiece and provoke its viewers to want to genuinely act. Something that many productions strive to, but never actually achieve. The Claim is different. With strong writing, powerful performances and inclusive staging, this is a terrifically thought provoking show in every aspect. Who knew sitting in a state of exasperation could be so entertaining?


Reviewed by Phoebe Cole

Photography by John Hunter


The Claim

Shoreditch Town Hall until 7th March


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Shift | ★★★★ | May 2019
Gastronomic | ★★★★★ | September 2019
Kneehigh’s Ubu! A Singalong Satire | ★★★★ | December 2019


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The Incident – 3 Stars

The Incident

Canada Water Theatre

Reviewed – 17th October 2018


“charmingly explores the joys and trials of these relationships, but was lacking that zip needed to really lift it”


Next time you’re on the Jubilee line, stop off at the library next to Canada Water station. There, along with a good collection of books and a cute café, you can go into a fantastic theatre space. Both large and comfortable, and properly rigged for lighting, Canada Water Theatre is an excellent space to put on a show, a sentiment which Two Gents Productions clearly share. Their production of ‘The Incident’ is playing here, and it is a relationship drama about Jan and Monica. Both teach at the same school, both live in Sweden and both are seemingly in love with each other. The big difference: Jan is Swedish and Monica is from Zimbabwe. The play tackles the couples’ struggles to communicate and understand each other, as well as wider social issues concerning racial politics in Sweden and indeed globally.

The two actors both held their own in this two-hander; however it was Cassandra Hercules playing the part of Monica who really shone. She had the difficult task of articulating racial struggle in a way that wasn’t cliché or too bleak. She was successful, as her whole performance was rich with physical energy and clear connection to her thoughts. David Weiss’ Jan was a much more stuck up and stiff character than Monica, however there were moments where I felt his character came across as particularly cold and cruel, especially when ‘consoling’ Monica when she was upset over past racial prejudices she had experienced.

In terms of the writing, there seemed to be a lot of significance weighted onto lines with clear messages, and not as much attention on the subtext and moments in between. Joakim Daun’s award-winning script has a few of these moments of unnecessary exposition, filling the audience in on information that we can get simply through good direction and use of the space. The scene where Jan informs Monica of her suspension from work was an excellent example of using distance between the actors and fast pace to create energy and plenty of subtext. It would have been fantastic if this quality was present throughout the piece.

The play is an international one, and has been performed all over the world. In the lobby before the show I was able to witness a wonderful mixing of cultures, as Swedish and African audience members were meeting and discussing the upcoming show. The piece charmingly explores the joys and trials of these relationships, but was lacking that zip needed to really lift it.


Reviewed by Edward Martin

Photography by Joakim Daun


The Incident

Canada Water Theatre until 19th October



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