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EXILE - review

This was a brave play that travelled around Portsmouth’s Anglican diocese over the summer and spoke to the hearts of those who saw it.

Top Cat Theatre Company told the story of John Boswell, a nice bank manager living in Surrey in 2001. But this is not Surrey as we know it.

This is Surrey in a parallel universe, in which Britain is in the grip of a totalitarian government, and those who dare to oppose the regime risk their lives and freedom.

Caught up in his crusading brother’s bid to speak out, John is forced to flee in fear of his life. Audiences are taken through the Kafka-esque experience of John’s bid for freedom and dignity in a new country.

They see him subjected to one arbitrary degradation after another until the end of the play - when we discover that everything we have watched is true. It is the experience of one of the actors who fled Uganda for Britain and whose future is still uncertain.

The courage of the man in allowing his story to be told, and the courage of the actors in portraying some difficult and unsettling scenes is humbling. The play distills John’s experiences into a form which rings of simple, unavoidable truth.

“You people come over here and take our jobs, live in our houses and marry our women. And we are not going to stand for it!” These words, bellowed by an irate Ugandan at an Englishman may sound shocking. Yet they sum up the worst of British feeling towards those who flee to us for their protection.

Portsmouth Area Refugee Support

All images copyright Top Cat Theatre Company.