Theatre Review - A Sudden Violent Burst of Rain

 SAMI Ibrahim has transformed the refugee experience into a fable in this engaging drama. After a successful run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, is the opening production at the Gate Theatre’s new home in Camden.

While tending sheep, Elif (Sara Hazemi) falls for the landowner’s son (Samuel Tracy). They have a child, Lily (Princess Khumalo), but the landowner does not want him to end up with an illegal immigrant.

Left to bring up Lily alone, Elif travels to the city where she tries to become the king’s subject so she can earn a proper wage and afford decent accommodation.

Instead, she ends up in a series of lowly paid, cash-in-hand jobs and becomes embroiled in the island’s bureaucracy in order to earn the right to remain. Elif is made to stand in endless queues and has to navigate endless paperwork.

Then she is given another mountain to surmount. Elif must get the necessary documents before Lily turns 18 otherwise she will be labelled illegal too and risks being sent to her mother’s homeland; a country she’s never known. We learn Elif fled a tyrant’s repression after her father was killed.

Running at just over an hour, A Sudden Violent Burst of Rain is imaginatively staged in the round by Yasmin Hafesji. It’s played out on a largely bare stage with a few carefully chosen props hidden in a travelling trunk. A succession of Russian dolls buried in earth represent an unborn baby, rain is conjured from cloths wrung out in tin buckets, and miniature buildings symbolise the city.

It’s beautifully acted – the three actors take it in turns to narrate and play several roles. The writing is occasionally heavy-handed, but this is a powerful exploration of a Kafkaesque immigration system.

Until November 5

Originally published by Camden New Journal