Review: Welcome To The UK
Image: The Bunker (photos by José Farinha)
CAST: WELCOME TO THE UK
Abdul Aziz Al-Hasan
Mohand Hasb Alrsol Badr
Mohand Hasb Alrsol Badr
THEY ARE BACK!
You loved their satire of Calais Jungle.
You thought their journey was finally over.
They thought so too.
Welcome to the UK! Come in Ladies and Gentlemen, take a seat!
Hold on tight ... It's Borderline!
Expect Humour, horror, live music and candy floss.
PLEASE MIND THE GAP BETWEEN THE CONTINENT AND THE ISLAND.
The Borderline company present the world premiere of their new show, Welcome to the UK.
They will also be performing their first show, Borderline, twice a week alongside Welcome to the UK on Tuesdays and Saturdays, so you can see both shows in the same day!
Borderline is a satire of Calais Jungle devised and performed by a mixed ensemble of refugee and European performers.
It premiered in November 2016 at the Cockpit Theatre as part of the Voila! Festival and has been touring since nationally and internationally (Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and India).
Welcome to the UK is is a brand-new story - set on this side of The Channel.
WELCOME TO THE UK
Tuesday - Saturday at 7:30pm (except 29 Jan, 12 Feb)
Tuesday matinees at 3pm (except 22 Jan)
Saturday matinees at 3pm
Tuesday 29 Jan at 7.30pm
Tuesday 5 Feb at 7.30pm
Tuesday 12 Feb at 7:30pm
About the company
Borderline: 13 Countries - 1 Family. A unique theatre ensemble shortlisted for the Community Integration Awards.
It was created by PSYCHEdelight, a Theatre Company of Sanctuary led by Sophie NL Besse, a writer director and psychotherapist.
Three years ago, they all embarked on an artistic and human adventure to raise awareness and change the negative narrative often associated with refugees. THIS SHOW IS THEIR VOICE
For the creation of Welcome to the UK we worked alongside the Women for Refugee Women drama group, supporting refugee and asylum women performers who have joined the Borderline cast.
They are doing incredible work and it seems very important for us to help them raise awareness around the trafficking of women to the UK.
Switching on BBC news after returning home from this show, I caught a report about desperate people in ports in France, Belgium and Spain trying to force their way into lorries in order to make the crossing to the UK.
According to the report, the number of people seeking asylum and permanent settlement in the UK is rising and the highest it has been for several years.
Climate change, wars, economic destitution, persecution and many other issues force people to seek better lives and security elsewhere - and the UK is often their preferred destination.
Migration on a pretty sizeable scale doesn't look set to vanish any time soon.
This playfully satirical show describes the kind of reception refugees and others seeking new lives in the UK can expect to receive on arrival on our shores.
And it's not a particularly complimentary portrayal of our immigration system which seems largely designed to be as cumbersomely unwelcoming as it's possible to be - hence the show's highly appropriate title, that borders on the inspired.
But, even as a satire, the show doesn't start with mockery, derision or condemnation ... it starts with dreams.
And the audience are invited to share their own dreams by means of balloons we find on our seats.
Dreams, like the balloons, can often vaporise into the ether only too quickly.
And it's not long before the stark reality of a harsh, lumbering and sometimes ludicrous immigration system begins to emerge.
Set in a kind of fairground that allows for a variety of disparate vignettes butted-up to one other, Welcome to the UK is described as "An ode to the UK we love".
The show is a devised piece by theatre ensemble Borderline which was set-up to "raise awareness and change the negative narrative often associated with refugees".
The enthusiasm, energy and creativity of the entire cast here certainly accomplishes that aim, with many moments of neat, appealing humour with some loud and outrageous costumes and a multitude of endearing characters.
Some of the scenes work better than others both in terms of humour and satire.
There's a very funny - and somewhat pointed - Mary Poppins scene, for example, describing mollycoddling but well-intentioned citizens treating refugees like babies.
More poignant moments, though, are not overlooked - a man sits atop some stepladders for the duration of the piece patiently waiting for his application to be processed and to be joined by his wife.
And, along the way, we discover facts about the treatment of refugees that leave us doubting the UK is the world's fifth biggest economy (by total GDP), with the revelation of meagre and misely financial allowances provided by the state.
Though the show is often inventively funny, and turns out to be fun for both performers and audience, it isn't the kind of biting or hard-hitting satire one might expect and which, given the nature of the experiences described, would be wholly justified.
However, there is enough here to provoke us to question just how we can welcome people to our country with a fair, speedy and caring system that provides real refuge and hope - as it stands, there's little doubt that radical systemic change is ugently required.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for The Bunker
Our show listing for Welcome To The UK
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