Summers ending – boo – and so is Camden fringe. I had the pleasure of an invitation to see one of its closing shoes – Penetrating Europe; Migrants have Talent at the Cockpit Theatre. By Ukranian theatre company Molodyi Teatr London (which google translate tells me means ‘Young Theatre’) this was a fun and upbeat presentation of verbatim stories about how some eastern European people entered the European Union. Written pre-brexit, the show took the form of a talent show competition, auditioning people for the right of staying in London. Charming, yet brutally true as they told stories of detention centres and corruption within the interrogation room. They used a simple yet effective set, made up of a few large shopping bags (containing people, a lovely little metaphor), some union Jack chairs and a cardboard cut out of the Queen. I wouldnt have wanted to have seen any more props, they really struck the balance well between necessity and nonsense. I yearned for more use of song and dance, as when it was used within the production it was wonderful. Keeping the balance of verbatim monologue, serious content and the personality of the characters is a tricky ask, and although I was very impressed with the execution of this again I think it could be afforded to push it a little bit further. Overall I felt the show was very well rounded and very well executed, with a wonderful cast who were clearly having the time of their lives – always a joy to see as an audience member. In a country and time where there are plays about migration, refugees, war, displacement and Brexit are more commonplace than not, Migrants have Talent stands out in all the right places. In a post show discussion, the cast wondered how they could get a more varied audience – outside of mainly migrants who had lived or known similar experiences. The way the show was structured led me to think that it could work very well as a piece of open air theatre, or even a piece of theatre in education. Really it needs to be performed to an embassy, or to a panel of people with a lot of power over border controls. Forcing them to cast their vote as to whether or not an 8 year old can stay in the country could challenge their thoughts further than they expect.
Alongside the show, twolasses have been very excited to collaborate with up and coming performance photographer Carolyn Gildern. She joined me at this show and took some wonderful pictures, which are coming soon! Find more of her work by following the accreditation below: