Review: Night Light at Pegasus
“We’re all guilty of living in our own little bubbles and we just need to pierce them,” actor Aimee Powell said during the Mandala Theatre debate that took place on 29th September just after the company’s Oxford performance of Night Light, a production about the refugee crisis, and specifically those who seek refuge as lone minors.
Aimee is right I believe, at least in my case. Forgetting about other people, I do live day to day in an agreeable, granola buying, tea with honey sipping bubble. Mandala somewhat perforated it for me with Nadia Davids’ play – a frank and emotional eye opener to the terror refugees flee and the rejection they face on coming here.
“These are actual people. They’re not just statistics and they’re not a number on a piece of paper or a screen. They’re actual people with actual lives, and actual families, who have actually experienced this,” Aimee – who plays Salma – said of refugees when I spoke to Mandala earlier this year. Onstage, with Zakaria Zerouali playing Taariq, she reiterates this, showing us two characters who cry, make mistakes and eat crisps like the rest of us.
Both end up detailing their pasts, throwing themselves into impassioned and harrowing monologues. They do not have an easy task with these. David's script doesn't permit them to conceal their faces and just making sobbing noises, they have to speak to us as well – and so we get them up close and personal, words and tears right there before us...properly acting.
“They’re not coming here for no reason,” Mandala’s artistic director Yasmin Sidhwa stated to me a month or so ago. Indeed Night Light presents to us the horrific worlds refugees run from. As Salma talks to social worker Tom, as portrayed by Oliver Davis, we’re informed of the regular rape of Salma’s mother, who we’re also told put a positive spin on the burning buildings so close to her and her daughter, describing the fire as “night light”.
The play is switched up a tad through use of media, the famous picture of three year old Aylan Kurdi dead on a Turkish beach becomes even sadder when matched with the words Salma says as it’s shown. Plus there’s physical theatre. However none of these feats are overused thus Davids’ brutal writing is always enabled to shine through.
On for just one more night, tickets for Night Light are available here.
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