Home » London Theatre Reviews » The Boy Written by Joakim Daun – at Soho Theatre | Review

The Boy Written by Joakim Daun – at Soho Theatre | Review

A man has fled his country, seeks refugee status, and gains it, but finding a life in the UK is not without it’s own complications. This new play by Joakim Daun explores the experience of being a refugee in a foreign land, and while telling a compelling story, it feels removed from the reality of being a refugee in the UK.

The BoyThe Boy tells the story of a man and his adopted child travelling from what is alluded to be a war-torn region, to the safety of the UK. Upon arrival, he is granted asylum status surprisingly quickly. From there he manages to find a job and while there are complications, having to rehouse and issues regarding documentation, he manages to find some semblance of a life after the disruption and destruction of his homeland. He works at the home of a wealthy couple who have lost a child, the mother begins to take a liking to the boy. And in the background of all of this, is the complicated relationship the man and the boy have with their homeland and the mother of the boy.

The script moved the story on with good pacing, keeping the plot going while also developing characters to become more rounded individuals, each with real motivation for complicated decisions. That being said, the writing constantly tells the audience what is going on, never letting the moment breathe or letting us engage with a more complex and troubling understanding of the refugee experience.

Performances were broadly strong. The Boy, played by Eve Von Elgg is engaging, capturing a truthfully boyish playful energy. About two-thirds through the play, I had to remind myself that I was watching a fully grown actor play the part of a boy, not a child actor. The man (Jerome Ngonadi) puts in a compelling performance as the adoptive father, showing some of the challenges faced as a single refugee guardian. Shereen Roushbaini is good as both the employer of the father and multi-rolling as a social worker.

It is an odd play to watch at the moment. As thousands upon thousands of Palestinians flee their home, I cannot help but think of the many people who’s life will be irreversibly impacted by conflict. It is for this reason that I find the dramaturgy and writing of this play to be somewhat naïve. The boy and the man arrive in this country, and they are granted asylum status absurdly quickly, a far cry from the reality of the disgraceful asylum system currently faltering along in this country. They face little to no othering or racism, and while you may not want the play to revolve around this, it cannot be entirely ignored. The emotional impact of their homeland is represented, but only in nightmares and the occasional flashback, I could not help but think that this element of their story was neglected.

That being said, the migrant story is often told with bleak, miserable conclusions. It is good to see a hopeful one, and while I wanted it to be more engaged with the current reality of refugee life in the UK, the characters feel real and their story needs to be told.

2 gold stars

Review by Tom Carter

The lives of a Man, a Boy and a Woman from different worlds and realities become intertwined over the one thing they have in common – loss. Can they find a sense of community again after having lost everything?

On a bus from an unnamed country, an unlikely friendship forms between a young unaccompanied boy and an older man; both escaping their past. Looking for a new life in a big city, their paths cross with that of a young woman attempting to deal with her own trauma. Over the course of a poignant, charming and witty 70 minutes, The Boy explores identity, belonging, resilience and the boundless power of human connection.

Joakim Daun – Writer & Co-Producer
David Shopland – Producer
Maria Jose Andrade – Director
Lavinia Serban – Assistant Director
Erin Guan – Set Designer
Ophir Burton – Sound Designer
Neil Grutchfield – Dramaturg
Fatima Hussain & Treci Fields – Production Interns

Eve von Elgg – Performer
Shereen Roushbaiani – Performer
Jerome Ngonadi – Performer

Fake Escape in association with Joakim Daun presents:
The Boy
Written by Joakim Daun
Tue 17 Oct – Sat 4 Nov 23

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