Thursday, 27 March 2014

Refugee Boy

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Refugee Boy
Adapted by Lemn Sissay
Northern Stage
Saturday 22nd March 2014

'because peace is better than war no matter where you live'

The stage adaptation of Benjamin Zephaniah's novel, Refugee Boy follows school-boy Alem's bid to gain refugee status in England following the war status in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The production managed to bring humour and heart-break to the stage as we follow Alem on a journey of self discovery.

Refugee Boy gave a perfect display of that no matter where you come from and what you have experienced all young people go through the same thing; this is shown to us with the development of Alem's relationship with best friend Mufasa. Their friendship gave such a nice light-hearted touch to what should be such a serious subject, particularly with Alem struggling with Mufasa's dialect when doing the typical boy thing of talking about their female peers: 'Hot...like a fire? Sweet...you have tasted her?'

Having been a little bit confused following the initial scene I was concerned that I would have totally lost it for the rest of the play, how wrong could I have been? From then on in, I was fully committed to Alem's story, even almost shedding the occasional tear!

I am always such a fan of massive topics challenged from the point of view of a young person and Refugee Boy did not fail to disappoint. The production took a refreshing angle on a subject that has been discussed over and over again with what seems to be same approach; I believe the use of a young person was paramount to its success. It was with small details such as the fact that Alem struggled finding out that people in England didn't know when Ethiopian's celebrated Christmas that Refugee Boy shone: 'If Christmas makes us nicer to each other then we should celebrate as many Christmases as we can'.

Refugee Boy both broke my heart and warmed it within an hour and a half.

'Cars are amazing, yeah? Cars can drive you away, but if they can, they can drive you back'

Hannah x

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