Playhouse theatre, London
This vivid recreation of life in the sprawling refugee camp is a priceless piece of theatre that enlarges our understanding while appealing to our emotions
This is that rare thing: a necessary piece of theatre. It is the work of Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, who created Good Chance theatre in the refugee camp at Sangatte, Calais, that became known as the Jungle. It not only offers, in a superb production by Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin, a vivid recreation of lived experience but leaves you pondering how the world should address what is seen as the migrant crisis.
First seen at the Young Vic last year, the production has moved into the West End of London with its vital organs intact. Miriam Buether’s design transforms the stalls of this jewel-like theatre into the camp’s Afghan Cafe, where we sit round long, rough tables that become walkways for the actors. While the space seethes with activity, there is also a clear shape to the play. Starting with a funeral and the threatened eviction of the camp’s inhabitants in October 2016, it goes back in time to trace the site’s growth over 18 months. We see how a random, multinational mix of refugees turns into a town of more than 6,000 citizens living with a daily sense of hope and desperation.