BWW Review: HEARD, Camden People's Theatre
Amana and Hafizah share a love for life and too many dreams to count. One wants to go to university, the other wants to find someone she's lost. Both of them can't, however, go on with their lives as they're being unjustly detained.
Winnie Imara and Tamsin Newlands' Heard takes the UK Immigration system by the horns introducing a pair of strong and assertive women who aren't afraid to be human. Directed by Abigail Sewell, the original play might need some polishing but it certainly sets a strong foundation for further exploration of the subject.
The characters start as strangers and unite for their common cause, bonding over mundane things like food and Hafizah's (Newlands) inability to dance. The writers disguise their critique under layers of friendship and support. Their righteous indignation fully breaks through towards the end when the characters are forced to face what hides outside their room.
The isolation and despair of the two women is made to be the unfocused centre of the play with not only visual cues (the bare cell and tiny beds with white sheets) but also with the constant reminder that they were stripped of everything they'd owned as soon as they were taken in.
They cling on their identities with all their beings, Hafizah listens to music as much as she can, Amana practices her drawing and planning skills on her notebook. The investigation of the lack of rights and injustice of the system is strong in the subtlety that precedes the explosion in the second part, making it a play about humanity first and foremost.
As writers, Imara and Newlands are a dynamic combo, penning an engaging and effective script. Sewell's direction is neat and focuses the attention on the poignancy of the matter. All in all, Heard represents a solid debut for Sewell (as director) and Newlands (as writer) whilst resolutely establishing Imara's penmanship.