Definitely not for those who have issues with claustrophobia, this ingeniously mounted production of Clare Bayley’s politically and ethnically charged British play about refugees under stress and pressure takes on a whole new meaning under Zachary Florence’s tight and brave direction.
The claustrophobia remark was not a joke. The show comes staged literally inside of a cargo shipping container behind The Theatre Centre that can only hold about 19 audience members at a time and has the door slammed shut at the outset only briefly cracking open over the course of the hour long show.
Five people fleeing war, persecution, and their pasts are making their way across Europe with hopes of getting to England inside of a shipping container with no food, no water, and for many, little money. The play picks up mid-journey, with tensions already at a boiling point between a selfish, wealthy business owner (Sugith Varughese), a thrice turned back Kurd with a conscience (Adriano Sobretodo Jr.), a woman (Bola Aiyeola) and her somewhat adopted daughter (Ubah Guled), and the arrival of a scared, pregnant woman (Lara Arabian). They begin to wonder if their “agent” (Constantine Karzis) will ever get them food or to their destination as the trip becomes increasingly more difficult as they make their way to hopefully better lives.
Outside of some great performances all around (most notably from Karzis faux-noble asshole routine and Sobretado’s grounding influence on the piece), the film’s biggest coup is the cramped setting. The cast never cracks and Florence’s staging really brings out the political and dramatic messages out of the piece beautifully. The show forces audience members to watch as abjectly impoverished people fight for survival, making viewers into complacent ghosts that can only sit and watch from the relative comfort of their own privilege.
It’s a show with a staging hook that could be seen as a gimmick, but it becomes an integral part of something very powerful.
Remaining performances at the Theatre Centre Back Lot (behind 1115 Queen Street West):
Tuesday August 12, 5:00pm
Tuesday August 12, 7:30pm
Wednesday August 13, 5:00pm
Wednesday August 13, 7:30pm
Friday August 15, 5:00pm
Friday August 15, 7:30pm
Saturday August 16, 5:00pm
Saturday August 16, 7:30pm
Sunday August 17, 5:00pm
Sunday August 17, 7:30pm
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