EDINBURGH 2019: BWW Review: THE CLAIM, Summerhall
Tim Cowbury's play centres around a man claiming asylum in the United Kingdom. Serge came here on a tourist visa and has to be interviewed by immigration about whether or not he can stay and what support he can be given.
Initially the appointment seems to be going well as Serge tries to tell the man who is interviewing him his story. This man can speak his language and the two get along and manage to have a laugh. The interviews are normally conducted as pairs so when the man's partner is introduced to the room, things get a little more complicated.
As Serge relays his story to the woman in broken English, miscommunication is mistaken for inconsistencies. Serge gets increasingly frustrated which is then taken as aggression. As an outsider, the crossed wires are clear but the characters can't seem to figure out what is actually happening. It becomes almost laughable as the Home Office employees insist they are listening to him and continue to put words in his mouth, talk over him and ignore his simple request for a drink of water.
It's frustrating to watch at times because everything seems to be so unnecessarily complicated. The audience perhaps feel more involved as well because the piece is set in the round and the cast make full use of the space.
The Claim is a fast-paced piece of theatre that explores the experience of seeking refuge in the UK. The repetitive nature of the dialogue does mean it starts to drag on a little but overall, this is an absurd drama that examines prejudice and injustice.