I went to see this unusual show Flight in the darkened ballroom of the King Alfred Leisure Centre in Hove this weekend. Billed as an ‘individual experience’, groups were split into sections, brought into the venue and then separated, being placed in little seated cubicles in front of a large yet intricate moving diorama.
Having headphones placed over my ears, I immediately felt assimilated into the unfolding story of Aryan and Kabir, two Afghani brothers attempting to make the treacherous journey overland from Kabul to London.
The substance of the show is a beautifully created wooden moving spectacle of this displaced family’s attempt to reach a better life in the west. This is shown simply with backpacks, trains, on foot, boats, lorries and all manner of mechanised vehicles. Starting out with one plastic wallet, some dollars and a book of Afghan poetry and ‘the dreams of flight’; the boys battle through storms, imprisonment and all of the trials and tribulations that many migrants often face. However, through watching this microscopic world, the story suddenly becomes immediate and involving in a way that newspaper coverage doesn’t always manage to reach.
Created and performed by Glasgow based company Vox Motus, this is a clever and inspiring way to show theatre, sharing contemporary issues in an accessible and artistic way. I could easily have just listened to the soundtrack alone as it was so evocative.
Based on the novel Hinterland by former foreign correspondent Caroline Brothers, this show imagines the realities of life for a pair of young asylum seekers hoping for a new start in the West. The company went to meet the author in Paris and experience some of the hardships facing refugees in this modern day odyssey. They explored soup kitchens, noting however that this poverty did not turn migrants into victims.
The hour long experience explores the multitudinous themes of economic migration, modern day slavery, child sexual abuse, capitalism, and hope, to tease out a tale which left me quite spellbound and often in tears throughout. From Greece to Italy to France and back to Italy before heading to a version of the now demolished ‘The Jungle’ in Calais, in a last attempt to find a new life across the Channel.
In a short time, Flight draws you into a miniature world. It offers up seagulls dressed as border guards speaking their own gull language to emulate the confusion felt by those of losing their liberty. The exhaustion on the boys faces is incredibly realistic as the two children journey across Europe – trusting and thwarted time and time again, miniature models battling the odds.
Some great crafts and skills have been employed here to stage this spectacle including that of Jamie Harrison’s (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child magic effects and illusions designer) and Candice Edmunds’ unique staging which combines a certain graphic novel quality with this rotating globe of experiences.
I would utterly recommend seeing this, my one gripe is that the second the performance is over, I was hauled out of my chair to make way for the next viewer, without a minute to gather my thoughts and reflect after an emotional and tumultuous experience. Hopefully this is teething trouble in the first weekend of the Festival. I’d like to think so as it did detract from what was an unusual, groundbreaking and very relevant experience otherwise.
Adapted by Oliver Emanuel
Recommended for 14+
Sat 4 – Thu 23 May
Tuesdays – Fridays: 12pm, 12.45pm, 1.30pm, 6pm, 6.45pm, 7.30pm, 8.15pm, 9pm
Saturdays 12pm, 12.45pm, 1.30pm, 2.15pm, 3pm, 3.45pm, 5.15pm, 6pm, 6.45pm, 7.30pm, 8.15pm, 9pm
Sundays 11:15am, 12pm, 12.45pm, 1.30pm, 2.15pm, 4:30pm, 5.15pm, 6pm, 6.45pm, 7.30pm, 8.15pm, 9pm
Mon 6 May: 12pm, 12.45pm, 1.30pm, 2.15pm, 3pm, 3.45pm, 5.15pm, 6pm, 6.45pm, 7.30pm, 8.15pm, 9pm
Under 26 / Festival Standby £10**
Advance booking required, no tickets on the door
** For this event there are £10 Festival Standby tickets available to book in advance. Simply select the STANDBY IN ADVANCE price type.
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