Magic Moments: The Jungle at the Playhouse Theatre

A few days ago, Ms B asked me if I wanted to see the preview of a play about the migrant crisis for £25 at the Playhouse Theatre. Little did I know what a truly magical theatre experience lay ahead of us. In hindsight, I can’t believe we hadn’t heard about the sell-out run this play had had at the Young Vic last year.

The play is set in a ramshackle Afghan café in the Calais migrant camp. The set merges with the audience, with theatre-goers sharing the table with thespians, actors walking through the aisles of the auditorium.

The play starts with an ending: another eviction notice has been served to the residents of ‘The Jungle’, leading to a chaotic frenzy where everyone tries to figure out how to deal with the threat of losing their temporary home. The end of the play has been well-documented in the media: Calais migrant camp being bulldozed to the ground and thousands of refugees being displaced yet again.

The piece was written by Joe Robertson and Joe Murphy, who founded the Good Chance project, which brought theatrical productions to the Camp. The Guardian quotes Robertson as saying that the play was an attempt to convey the many stories of the people they encountered [there]. “We want this to be a play that doesn’t try to preach or teach but does provoke debate because it is one we need to have. Many, many people are still arriving in Europe, still arriving in Britain, and the question of how do we live together is as vital now as it was when we first arrived in Calais.”

(c) Sarah Lee, Guardian; profile pic (c) ATG Tickets

The plot is accompanied by accidental leader Safi (Ammar Haj Ahmad), who serves as main character and narrator. We follow the events, that lead to the destruction of the camp, watch the everyday madness of people dreaming, hoping, despairing, kids risking their lives trying to escape to the UK. Robertson and Murphy also put a strong focus on the young, usually Caucasian, Brits (often from well-to-do backgrounds) who helped out at the camp as volunteers. Step forward Eton-educated Sam (Alex Lawther), who helps with the construction of homes, Beth, a well-meaning 18-year-old from the Home Counties, and several others.

(c) British Theatre

This was one of the best plays Ms B and I have ever seen. Anywhere. 5 out of 5.

Looking for further theatre reviews, try Wish List, Obsession, and Sea Wall.

Or perhaps some restaurant reviews? A. Wong, Coco Momo, and Dean Street Town House.

Looking for adventure? Check out our posts about skydiving, our rides on a helicopter, a jetski, two very fast rubber boats (on the Thames and near the North Pole), an amphibian Vietnam War vehicle, a hot air balloon, and a jetlev.

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