Theatre and migration: The Crossing
Esther O'Toole's gripping play The Crossing is in London this week at Battersea's Theatre 503. It tells the story of three Ghanaian men in the last months of their journey through North Africa to Europe and what they see as a better life. It's based on various first hand accounts and given recent stories of the failure of NATO ships to assist refugees off the coast of Libya and border spats between France and Italy, it feels like it has been ripped from the headlines.
The play works so well in bringing out the stories and motivations of these three men who risk everything and pay smugglers to get them to the Italian Island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean. The performances by Michael Offei, Michael Kofi and Kwaku Boateng draw you in to a world of desperation, hope and humour. The chemistry between them also gives the story a real warmth. By the end you feel like you understand where they are coming from.
The production is also slick with some clever projections of maps to keep your bearings and some excellent lighting and sound effects that will make you jump at some tense moments in the story. Of course dreams of success and prosperity prove elusive (unless those dreams involve selling sunglasses on Italian Beaches). While the story may end up being a predictable one, it is the journey that you will remember. And in addition to being a geography lesson and cultural exchange, you'll leave the theatre wondering if there is ever going to be a better way of addressing economic migration.
A thought-provoking night at the theatre and worth catching this week. It's at Theatre 503 through to Saturday at 7.45pm.