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Photos: First Look at CARGO at the Arcola Theatre


Goods get damaged all the time. Wouldn't want to spoil the cargo, now, would we?

CARGO is an enthralling new play from author and playwright Tess Berry-Hart (Someone to Blame, Sochi 2014). Directed by Evening Standard Award nominee David Mercatali (Little Light, Radiant Vermin), this timely world premiere is a tense and provocative thriller that reveals just how much people are willing to risk in search of a better life.

The production will play the Arcola Theatre (24 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London E8 3DL) now through Saturday 6th August 2016. Press night: Tonight 8th July, 8pm.

A group of exiles sit in the dark of a container ship with nothing but the clothes on their backs and their wits to rely on. Their homes have been destroyed and their lives upturned, forcing them to take a great leap into the unknown.

As they journey ever closer to their destination in the hope of finding a future, they question what awaits them and if those who pose the greatest threat to their safety might in fact be concealed amongst them. But where have they come from? And who are they?

CARGO is, in part, inspired by Tess Berry-Hart's experiences as a founding member of Calais Action, a grassroots collective run by ordinary people to help tackle the current refugee crisis. Calais Action has sent hundreds of tonnes of humanitarian aid to Calais, Dunkirk, Hungary, Samos, Lesvos, Leros and Chios and raised thousands of pounds to provide food, medicines, and infrastructure for those in desperate need. CARGO builds on these real life experiences and explores the conflicted loyalties that arise when people are forced to flee their homes, to trust in strangers and confront the possibility of betrayal by those closest to them.

CARGO invites the audience to experience their story. With a fully immersive set made from packing materials and shown in the round from OFFIE-nominated Max Dorey (No Villain, Teddy, Lardo), atmospheric sound from OFFIE-nominated Max Pappenheim (Toast, Wink, Little Light), and evocative lighting from OFFIE-winning Christopher Nairne (This Will End Badly, Lionboy, Coolatully), this trio will recreate the claustrophobic conditions of a shipping container.

This is a gripping thriller that offers a personal and unique take on the migrant crisis, dissecting one of the defining social issues of our time. Tess Berry-Hart comments, My desire is to give the audience an immersive, visceral experience, as if they were refugees travelling secretly in a darkened cargo container. I want them to consider the questions: What if this were us? How would this feel? What would we do?

Produced by Metal Rabbit Productions (Radiant Vermin, Johnny Got His Gun, Lardo).

For tickets and more information, visit

Photo Credit: Mark Douet

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