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You can’t stop the boats: Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea @ParkTheatre

Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea by Italian playwright Emanuele Aldrovandi and translated by Marco Young, has made a topical return to London at the Park Theatre after playing earlier this summer at the Seven Dials Playhouse. In a week when leaders and leaders in waiting were talking about illegal immigration, it seemed like a topical choice . It also has one hell of an evocative title. The piece opens with Adriano Celantano’s Prisencolinensinainciusol , which sets the scene for what we are about to see. After all, a song about communication barriers seems perfect for a play about people trafficking and illegal immigration. One side doesn’t understand why they happen, and the other still comes regardless of the latest government announcement / slogan .  However, the twist here is that the crossing is undertaken the other way. People are fleeing Europe instead of escaping war or poverty in Africa or the Middle East. It’s set sometime in the not-too-distant future. There is a crisis causing p

Cattle class: Dubailand @Finborough

There is a line in the play Dubailand about all the astronauts around the world looking down and seeing people in Dubai. The implication is they will see these masters of the universe. Labourers earning loads of money. Expats in offices making a bundle. But they will see tiny people of insignificance. That's the point of the play. Whether you're a labourer or marketer, you're all the same. You're second or third or fourth-class citizens. And don't forget it.

The play by Carmen Nasr is running at The Finborough Theatre on Sundays Mondays and Tuesdays. It was first performed there as a staged reading in 2015.

There are many characters in the piece, and it builds to make its nuanced observations. There is the eager Brit marketer Jamie (Nicholas Banks) who hits on the idea to film construction of one of their towers. To reassure buyers who bought off the plan the project is on track. And there is the labourer Amar (Adi Chugh). He finds that the dreams of riches don't quite match the harsh living conditions and low pay for the dangerous work.

There's also various service workers - taxi drivers, waiters, whatevers - all played by Varun Sharma. Afterall in Dubai you're interchangeable.

Extra enjoyment in this piece comes from having recently visited Dubai. This city in the desert had left its impression. Sure it is an oasis of free enterprise and no income taxes. There isn't much to do there other than shop. And with all the people walking around with brooms and mops the bathrooms and public spaces are spotless.

But visiting it feels like its urban planning on hormones rather than steroids. It grows in fits and starts. Roads veer off to fake beaches. There are relentless rows of apartments that at night appear to be all dark as if nobody is living there. Signs are everywhere telling you what you can and can't do. For a city with no taxes prices seem high.

This play calls it what it is. A dystopia.

Directed by Georgie Staight, Dubailand is at The Finborough Theatre until 21 February.  It's run may be sold out but check the website for the additional matinee on 20 February and for returns.


Photo credit: Production photos by Tim Hall

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