If there was ever a production which drew you in as much for the response of the audience as the performance, The Claim is it. Assured writing and acting ensures the audience is fully committed.
Serge (Ery Nzaramba) is seeking help. Living in London, he needs refuge and has a story which needs to be heard. And this underpins the production – the need to hear and the need to be heard.
Serge encounters ‘A’ (Nick Blakeley), A is there to hear but prefers to be heard. As Serge tells his story, about the memories of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, A overlays the story with what he is hearing, of Willy Fog’s Around the World in 80 days.
The confusion, contradiction and implied knowledge creeps in. Each unknowing of the extent of the misunderstanding. A has other priorities. A holiday in Ios, and the need to impress his colleague ‘B’ (Emmanuella Cole).
Serge has fled the Democratic Republic of Congo, and is seeking asylum. Semantics and bureaucracies suffocate him. Whilst the performance is undertaken entirely in English, there is an understanding A is acting as a translator. With an unenviable level of incompetence in the nuances of the English language.
In B, there are no holds barred, picking up on every nuance of confusion. Events and facts spiral of out of control. In this the response of the audience is one to be proud. The misunderstandings, the frustration, and the consequences are not only unfathomable but the ease in which they are reached convincing.
And this appears to be the strength of Tim Cowbury’s writing and the three performances. The Claim is fast paced, the need to get through a day’s work palpable. Set alongside the loss of what is sought. To understand why refuge is sought. Mark Maughan’s direction ensures the balance of bureaucracy and need is balanced. The humour carefully crosses the line along with the audiences frustration.
The Claim is at Summerhall as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. You can see the production at 12.50 until Sunday 25th August (excl. 20th).
Disclosure: This review is part of media accreditation for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. All views and opinions contained are my own.