As a podcast lover, I am an avid listener of The Guilty Feminist and after seeing a live show with the cast of The Jungle Play, I took its advice and got myself and my boyfriend tickets for a performance.
In London, where theatre productions tend to adhere to a grand standard, there is an excitement in getting into the show before the performance and taking in your surroundings for some clues of what to expect. In this case, the room was completely different to a usual setup (which was apparent when the door staff advised we check in the suit Ali was carrying because “the theatre is full of mud and the actors will be running around”). When we arrived at The Young Vic, the audience were sat in separate communities. We sat on the stage in Syria, but there were tables just under the stage and seats behind stalls covering all countries from which refugees are fleeing.
It was a makeshift representation of the Calais Jungle, with the centre of the play at the Afghan Cafe – a meeting place for all the different communities in The Jungle (once reviewed by AA Gill for Table Talk). For those, like me, who don’t have a great deal of knowledge about The Jungle in Calais, this was a camp set up by refugees attempting to get to the UK from France that was demolished by the French government in October 2016.
Whether you are engaged a lot with the refugee crisis or you have trouble grasping the headlines and don’t have a full understanding of the situation (which I felt was me), it is a brilliant play because it places the story in the hands of the refugees. The play was written by Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson who set up the Good Chance Theatre Company in the Calais Camp and spent time sharing stories with refugees in The Jungle.
It is joyful and uplifting as well as a very honest and brutal depiction of the best and worst in humanity. There is music and dancing throughout and the actors run around the floor, engaging briefly with the audience and making it a really interactive and all encompassing experience. You can also choose to sit in the theatre’s balcony, but I recommend a seat in one of the sections below to get an immersive experience. Tickets start at £15 and the play is running until November 3rd. If you find yourself in London before then, it is a play that is not to be missed. I’ve personally learnt so much as before I have found headlines about the refugee crisis confusing. It really helps to apply a reality to what the media treats as a statistic and it is equally a fantastic and sophisticated piece of theatre with great actors, set design and direction throughout.