Of Our Own Making

Of Our Own Making

Image by Of Our Own Making (Something Underground)

Daniel Nelson

Move over Scandi noir, hello refugee noir.

The publicity blurb sets the scene for Of Our Own Making:

Set against the Syrian refugee crisis…

Meet Parsifal, a boy, lost and lonely, slowly groomed and recruited online.

Meet Amira, a mother crossing the Med, with her baby and other refugees

Meet Saif, a man on the run.

Meet Hussan, a man travelling into Europe from… who knows where?

Meet Micky, an undercover tabloid cub reporter looking for dirt on refugees.

Let them meet each other and their fate.

The clock is ticking. The targets are set.

It’s a fast-paced thriller, but the content is not about a race against the clock to track a sex-obsessed murderer, but about events going on around us, even if we glimpse them only a TV news flash or a newspaper headline. So we see the grooming, the crazily dangerous voyage from Libya and the last-minute rescue, a love affair, an interrogation, a truck fitted out to carry a deadly payload against an international religious target, and yes, a race against the clock to track a sexually sublimated bomber.

Amazingly it all takes place on a small part of the Tara Theatre stage, with few props except a while curtain and a metal cage that acts as a boat, a bed and a truck.

Author Jonathan Brown keeps us guessing as the plot is unrolled, building to a near hysterical pitch.

The are a couple of klunky but necessary explanations – about, for example, Sunni-Shia relations in Mosil, the sexual repression revelations of one of the characters are too pat, and the play is so packed with incident that it almost feels like an over-rich pudding.

But it can’t be faulted on ambition and the combination of serious intent and entertainment.

Brown says his play “was originally about the refugee crisis, but after a while it transformed into a play about radicalisation, masculinity, the Iraq war, ISIS and Brexit.

“All the characters have complex stories and we’re asked to look past the easy and simplistic viewpoints that the press and the politicians use to manipulate the people, and see into the three-dimensional lives of both those we see in the headlines, and those writing the headlines.”

He knows the background, having worked with composer Dirk Campbell, who lost his daughter Anna in March 2018, ten months after she left home to fight Isis; Natali Servat, whose parents were Iranian refugees who fled to Sweden and played the title role in Amnesty International Freedom Of Expression Award-nominated Nazanin’s Story; and Mark Nightingale, a lead mentor for national organisation A Band of Brothers. (The show is accompanied by free workshops for teenage boys in Wandsworth with Nightingale and Brown.)

* Of Our Own Making is at the Tara Theatre, 356 Garratt Lane, SW18, until 16 February. Info: 8333 4457/ https://www.tara-arts.com/whats-on

 

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