Friday, July 19

Tender – Rich Mix

Phosphoros Theatre, renowned for its impactful and thought-provoking productions, returns with its fifth play, “Tender.” Building on the success of their previous tours through a collaborative research and development process across the UK, “Tender” is a timely, robust, and engaging production.

With the new Illegal Migration Act and Rwanda Bill, this piece fills an urgent gap that mass media seems unwilling to report on factually. The play features a diverse cast from Albania, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Iraq. Each actor brings unique flavours and perspectives, adding authenticity and depth to the production. Abel, Klevina, Ibrahim, Ismael, and Sara form a terrific and talented team on stage, seamlessly adopting numerous roles.

“Tender” humanises the pain and suffering of young refugee children who have been forced to become adults as early as 11 years old. Through metaphor, poetry, set design, costume, and poignant lighting, they recreate the torturous conditions of arrival in the UK and the discrimination they face in classrooms and workplaces. The play creates humour around mental health challenges, often signs of post-traumatic stress, such as forgetting, the sudden resignation of social workers, the irony of £20 TX Maxx vouchers, and champagne birthday cards for communities that don’t drink liquor. These bright minds logically conclude the effects of crumbling capitalism.

The play also creates space for dancing, dreaming, Taylor Swift, vaping, and love without judgment or moral policing. Most importantly, it prompts the audience to pause and reflect on how often we judge others based on our privilege.

The show began development in 2021, supported by Arts Council England and Derby Theatre. It draws on the personal narratives of its company of refugee actors, shining a humane spotlight on the gnawing realities they have faced. The facilitators, the company, and the students have woven care and solidarity into their tapestry of compassion for one another, evident through deep listening. One hopes that enough of the public will educate themselves and show up to stop our brothers and sisters from being forcefully taken on the Bibby Stockholm barge. It is essential to see the voices of migrants centred and their stories, accents, and realities recreated on stage.

Reviewer: Anisha Pucadyil

Reviewed: 17th May 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.