“I am black, I am gay, do you think these people want me in their country?”
For all that it is one of the most provocative of hot-button topics, the workings of the current UK immigration system remains a mystery to many and so there is a fascination to Chris MacDonald’s debut play which if anywhere near the truth, indicates it must be one of the most harrowing places to work. Eye of the Needle shows us the world of an Immigration Detention Centre through the eyes of not-quite-a-newcomer Laurence, a junior caseworker struggling to keep himself detached from the work.
Initially, he’s more interested in funding a nightlife in Dalston’s finest watering holes, regularly rocking up to work with a hangover and barely stifling giggles as he asks gay asylum seekers the ridiculous requirement to provide some sort of proof of their sexuality. An early scene does find the humour here but the laughter is soon cut off as a big case lands on his desk, that of Ugandan gay rights activist Natale, and finally the gravity of his position within the UKBA, and the power he wields over the lives of his caseload, begins to sink in. Continue reading “Review: Eye of a Needle, Southwark Playhouse”
“Christmas may be cancelled!”
Billed as “a theatrical adventure in Covent Garden”, the details of which we’re urged to keep secret so that future participants can experience it unspoiled, Once Upon A Christmas is Look Left Look Right’s contribution to this year’s festive fare, and what an appetising treat it makes. An interactive experience for pairs (although it can be experienced solo as well), the adventure begins at a nondescript address, tucked amongst the shops and bars of this bustling part of London, but it soon becomes clear that there’s more than meets the eye here.
For this is the elf-run headquarters of Pantoland who have been forced to walk amongst humankind in order to avert the biggest crisis of them all – the cancellation of Christmas itself. This has been caused by the shocking break-up of Cinderella and Prince Charming and the only people that can -help – well, you’ve guessed it, it’s you and your friend. And so begins a helter-skelter journey of one-on-one encounters through the nooks and crannies of Covent Garden – some considerably more salubrious than others – accompanied by some extremely familiar faces, although they might not always act exactly as you might expect.
It is a hugely charming enterprise and its fast-flowing nature – as you’re gently moved on from pillar to post to pumpkin – means that it is akin to tumbling into a winter Wonderland. A cast of eighteen excellently facilitate the journey constructed by writers Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and Katie Lyons and they offer an amusingly modern take on fairytale life – a bit of vicious gossip and tweeting here, some heartbroken necking of shots there, a wickedly amusing barrow-boy monk giving excellent banter. The show envelops you in its tinsel-clad embrace from the off and though the happy ending might never really seem in doubt, why on earth would you want it to be?
Those in search of earth-shattering drama or life-changing experience might need to recalibrate their expectations for a warm-hearted daftness in what is in store here and Once Upon A Christmas is all the stronger for it. Director Mimi Poskitt has marshalled her resources excellently, there’s some genuinely striking moments of acting alongside some excellent people management – Brandy Butter definitely wins the prize here – and that it all takes place in plain sight in so public an arena lends a marvellous sense of complicity to the whole affair, weaving it seamlessly into the fabric of the long-established entertainment in the square. Great fun.
Running time: 70 minutes (without interval)
Booking until 15th December