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BWW Review: THE CLAIM at Shotgun Players

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The Claim

BWW Review: THE CLAIM at Shotgun Players

The Claim

Written by Tim Cowbury

Directed by Rebecca Novick

Shotgun Players

After an almost two-year Covid shutdown, Shotgun Players open their 30th season with Tim Cowbury's dark, absurdist comedy The Claim, a smash hit at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In a nod to Kafka's The Trial, Cowbury shines his searing focus on Serge, an asylum seeker trapped in a bureaucratic nightmare that begins innocently enough, but quickly morphs down a rabbit hole of horrific miscommunications with dire circumstances.

Serge (Kenny Scott) seems likable and kind, not sure what to expect from this asylum meeting. Living his dream life in London after the hell of his youth in the Congo and forced emigration to Uganda, he tries in vain to explain his story to the anonymous bureaucrats simply labelled A and B. Sharing his Haribo Gummy Snakes, Serge is blithely unaware that his story is not being translated correctly; a piece of gum crucial to a memory of his favorite story Willy Wonka is mistranslated a gun (piece).

BWW Review: THE CLAIM at Shotgun Players
Soren Santos (A)

The first confrontation is between Serge and A (Soren Santos) and immediately the fast-paced dialogue battles between characters almost talking over each other in a nonsensical stream of consciousness. Serge tries to relate the story of his exodus from the Congo while A ponders the book Around the World in 80 Days and the sadness of dying elephants.

Soren Santo is wickedly good as the self-absorbed, slightly deluded interrogator. Speaking in a Monty Python-esque patter, A speaks Serge's language but doesn't hear a word that's being said. Enter Radhika Rao as B, an equally inefficient bureaucrat who must rely on A's translations to get at the truth. She's more proficient than A, but equally a buffoon.

BWW Review: THE CLAIM at Shotgun Players
Radhika Rao (B)

There is no truth here and that's the point. Serge is suspected as a radical militiaman, armed with his "piece," possibly a murderer, and living on London's streets. We laugh at these wild miscommunications at first, then squirm at the inanity of the circumstances. Slowly, Serge begins to realize what's happening and tells A "I'm not what you want me to be." It's a Greek tragedy played out countless of times in countless countries across the globe.

BWW Review: THE CLAIM at Shotgun Players
Kenny Scott as Serge.

Incredibly timely, chock full of witty wordplay and wonderfully acted, The Claim elicits chuckles but leaves you shaking your head in despair. Cultural and verbal differences cannot be another impediment when aiding those in desperate need. We all love a good horror story; this one adds a new form of monster.

The Claim runs through November 6th, 2021. Tickets available at (415) 755-8182 or at www.shotgunplayers.org

Photo Credit: Ben Krantz


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