Rating: 5 words – Urgent Vibrant Terrific Polyphonic Contagious
The opening number, in which the entire ensemble takes turns playing eight or so marimbas, sets the bar high. This virtuoso style is hard to sustain and it takes some time for the production to keep it up. However, once it does, the story grows on us immensely. It follows the journey of Asad Abdullahi as he migrates across Africa in search of a better life. After his mother is brutally assassinated in their own house is Somalia, the 8 year old sets off on a journey to Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Asad sees the worst and best sides of human beings, without ever losing hope in them.
The dramaturgical choices clearly emphasise the more positive moments of Asad’s refugee experience, instead of the terror and trauma that surrounds it. The second half, though slightly less engaging than the first, has a brilliant sequence of anti-immigration scenes set in South-Africa that resemble much the discourses we hear today, making one realise that extremism, mistrust and violence exists everywhere.
The directing is a masterclass in ensemble, using simple staging yet complex polyphonic singing: a terrific total theatre experience for the audience who shows signs of full engagement from beginning to end. Final verdict: an urgent play, a contagious ensemble with vibrant characters in a production we cannot recommend it enough.
Showing at the Young Vic theatre until the 12th of November.