Photo credit: Paul Samuel White
This powerful and highly relevant production is about a man called Serge (Ncuti Gatwa) who is claiming asylum. He speaks French and he has a translator at the claim office to help translate for him and for the translators colleague who is asking the questions.
This is a very well acted production with Gatwa being phenemonal, at points he just stares in to the audience, making eye contact and not letting go till that person has, the audience just shared his experiences and loved him.
The translator tries in a way to help Serge but he is completely self-focused and totally unprofessional in his behaviour not just to Serge but to his colleague whom he calls his ‘partner’ and frequently invites her to go on holiday with him, so a predator. This was the part of the play that I felt could have been done better, this asylum official is making his colleague feel uncomfortable and sexualised and yet he is represented as a bumbling, kind and nice man, just a bit useless, he shouldn’t be excused for that.
The way that the translation happens in this is brilliant though, it’s all spoken in English with the translator ‘translating’ what is said, so the audience can hear the discrepancies and the mistranslation. This is so eye opening and so dreadful due to the translator not taking notice of what is actually being said, or being too caught up in other things or to continue the narrative that he has in his mind over Serge to actually listen.
This play made me angry, frustrated and everything in-between. Based off of real life experiences this is the sort of treatment and the sort of mistakes that happen during claims. These are the sorts of mistakes that can cause people to lose their lives, their home, their safety. Is gossip or the potential of taking someone you like to a Greek island on holiday worth that? It’s about the power of speech. The power of listening above all. If you get anything out of the play let it be that- listen.