Sorry We Didn't Die At Sea - Park Theatre
A production lost adrift
Much has been said about the horrific journeys refugees are undertaking in the hope of a better life, the gangs that take advantage of their desperation and the hostile rhetoric used by many against accepting the world’s most vulnerable. Emanuele Aldrovandi’s play seeks to imagine a near future where the tables have turned and it is Europeans that are escaping a crumbling society, paying thousands to violent gangs to be smuggled in a shipping container to destinations unknown. Awkwardly straddling between a timely, hard-hitting drama and a comedic farce, the play however, is muddled and messy, its purpose left to sink uncomfortably beneath the waves.
Three strangers have handed over 1,000 dollars to an East London smuggler for a journey that will take them away from the vaguely described fallen society that once was Europe. They each have their reasons for leaving (though most are barely explored) the three characters settle in for the long journey. Personalities clash within the confines of their shipping container but after a storm sinks the ship and they are left floating in a nameless ocean, desperate debate turns to survival.
The fundamental building blocks of this piece are confused and the entire production suffers as a result. Billing itself as a comment on the terrible, ongoing refugee crisis but offering up a bizarre comedy feels somewhat strange and insincere. Feeling more like Tom Basden’s black comedy Holes than a reflection on the tortuous conditions thousands face on a daily basis, the piece is played for laughs. Notably, Felix Garcia Guyer’s role and scenes as the smuggler are so out of step with the theme that it is a wonder that his well-delivered but utterly pointless and meandering monologues survived the edit. Guyer and the rest of the cast do what they can with the words, injecting emotion and laughs where directed, but they stand within a half-finished production.
Will Bishop does well as ‘The Tall One,’ emanating the personality of a placid politician - fist-pointing and all. He bumbles clumsily through personal topics with his fellow travellers, unable to put a foot right. Yasmine Haller’s ‘The Beautiful One’ comes across as strong but woefully undeveloped, the guise never allowed to fully drop and therefore restricting the audience’s ability to empathise and understand her intentions. The final characters ‘The Stocky One’ and ‘The Burly One’ portrayed by Marco Young and Guyer respectively, remain unknown quantities beyond their bullying natures, the actors restricted by the text, unable to deliver fuller performances.
The periodical screeches between comedy, tragedy and all-out violence are awkward and unfulfilling with each scene inevitably resorting to cyclical squabbling that does little to forward to plot or trigger any intrigue. A sorry state for a show attempting to discuss such an important topic.
Running till 30th September - Tickets