Theatre review: Warehouse of Dreams at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre, Kentish Town
PUBLISHED: 06:00 27 November 2014
A weak staging of Chuck Anderson's fine refugee camp drama, says Aline Waites.
‘Every 15 seconds a Middle Eastern child becomes a refugee’.
This is a quote from Balqis Duvall who plays Sabeen – a fourteen-year-old girl living in ‘The Warehouse’ refugee camp. With a Syrian father and a childhood growing up in Kuwait, Balqis gives this play a special resonance with her exceptional performance.
USTV screenwriter Chuck Anderson has based the play on personal experiences in Syria along with recorded documents from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
Walls of corrugated iron give us the setting for the UN office in a Middle Eastern desert. Moriarty (played by Jamie Thompson) runs the refugee camp of 125,000 displaced residents with pragmatism and a total lack of sentimentality. He believes the community should be allowed to grow organically and independently rather than be patronised by the UN. They can never go home and have to make their living within the camp. He is called the Lord Mayor and all believe he is a man without a heart. He never reveals to anyone the nightmares of appalling atrocities he has when he sleeps.
Sabeen persuades Stanton, Moriarty’s kind hearted young assistant that she should get a job with the UN. She is very intelligent and speaks good English but Moriarty refuses to help her. He tells her to get an education so she can be of use to her country. Many subjects are explored including corruption within the camp and young girls forced into arranged marriages. There are criminals who intercept the electricity supply to the UN and sell it to the rest of the inmates. Much of the conflict in this play is between Moriarty and the wealthy Muslim Colonel but it’s a weak production of a drama that reads better than it plays.
With every ticket purchased, a percentage will be donated to Kentish Town charity War Child.
Rating: 3/5 stars.