LONDON – The refugee crisis continues to be a hot topic and night impossible to solve issue in today’s world, and with NOVAE Theatre’s latest play, they’re set to shine a new light upon the problem, putting a human face on it and portraying a moral quandary a cleaner face.
Written by Grace Chapman and directed by Nicholas Pitt, Don’t Look Away is set in 2015 Bradford, where Adnan (Robert Hannouch), a young asylum seeker, enters a community centre covered in flour & asking for help. There he meets Cath (Julia Barrie), a middle-aged cleaner, who reluctantly lets him stay in her son’s empty bedroom. But this decision has consequences, and Cath soon becomes increasingly entangled in Adnan’s asylum claim. As her frustrations rise, so does her desire to take action, until her estranged son Jamie (Brian Fletcher) returns home and wants his room back. With two boys under her care fighting for space, Cath’s house becomes a microcosm of British society, where there isn’t enough to go around, and blame is quickly passed.
Writer Grace Chapman herself was inspired by her family becoming involved in hosting asylum seekers in their homes, and Rob Lawrie, the former soldier arrested at the Calais border trying to smuggle a child refugee in his van. Don’t Look Away was in development since 2017, the same year it was longlisted for the Papatango playwriting award, and finally, makes its production debut on a small UK tour and culminating in a production as part of the Pleasance Islington’s flagship new writing season. Says Chapman: “This play is incredibly pertinent to me both on a personal and political level. Having witnessed first-hand the vacuum of support created by the UK’s ‘hostile environment’, I was inspired to tell the story of those individuals, including my family, striving to rectify this.”
Shifting our focus away from the government’s response to the international refugee crisis instead to how we as individuals have power to make a difference, Don’t Look Away is set to be a powerful, timely production exploring the impact of the UK’s ‘hostile environment’ on those who witness it.
Don’t Look Away plays from 7th to 18th May at the Pleasance, London, following tour stops at Oxfordshire and Harrogate. Tickets available here here