Sunday, October 16, 2011




 at the New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich


Migrants, economic and otherwise, asylum seekers, exiles and refugees. These are the invisible ones, not always on society's margins, but part of its fabric, essential but unseen.

Croatian dramatist Tena Štivičić has devised a thoughtful, and thought-provoking, play which seeks to give a voice to those who are on the move, fuzzy and faceless behind the translucent screen at the back of the stage. The set, designed by Hayley Grindle, was anonymous and impersonal – glass [operating] table and orange institutional chairs.

The bones of the play are strong, its structure powerful. But sometimes it felt as if there were too much flesh on the bones, and the momentum was lost.

The action [choreographed by Darren Johnston] was often dreamlike, as the seven actors changed the scene - the transformation of the kitchen table especially effective. The working title for an early incarnation was “In a Dream Dreamt by Another”.

Many of the migrants' stories were mythic fairy tales: the golden goose, the magic talking gherkin that leads to the vault. And it's in this Vault – a sleazy club – that the two worlds, “Fortress Europe” and the “Others” fatally coincide.

The final hot and cold confrontation between Felix – a believably pathetic Jon Foster – and Lara [Anna Elijasz] was a striking piece of theatre, although it could usefully be trimmed a little more. Other memorable moments were the phone call home, and the amusing contretemps with the notorious US immigration service, both excellently done by Gracy Goldman. Krystian Godlewski was outstanding as the carpenter/window-cleaner/storyteller.

Transport is an international company, and the variety of voices added a raw authenticity, if sometimes at the expense of clarity and fluency.

The two-hour loose-knit narrative included many meaningful details and juxtapositions. Lara seeks to integrate, and to make a home, by snapping up cast-offs from her employers, Anton by avidly observing life on the other side of the glass he's cleaning. The bedsit fridge is filled with gherkins, none of them quite like those back home.

There is no resolution, no closure here. Some migrants succeed, others, like Bridgitta Roy's tragic Sera, are fated to fail. We leave Anton in a coma, Felix facing a jail sentence. Lara, though, is confident. “The wind won't blow her away. Her life will have a meaning.”

This flawed but important piece, directed by Douglas Rintoul, and co-produced with the New Wolsey Theatre, sets off from Ipswich for a national tour, including a trip over to Luxembourg.

Invisible Trailer from Transport on Vimeo.

this piece first appeared on The Public Reviews

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