Review: On Arriving, VAULT Festival

A fragmented memory play, Ivan Faute’s On Arriving makes for a deeply personal take on refugee crisis at the VAULT Festival

“Luxury is what someone else thinks you wants…comfort is what you bring to yourself”

Presented as a fragmented memory play, Ivan Faute’s On Arriving is a strikingly singular response to refugee crisis, urging comprehension if not outright compassion for the individual stories that lie behind sweeping headlines too easily forgotten. Cat Robey’s unflinching yet still humane production wisely refuses to make this an easy or overly theatrical experience but it proves no less urgent for it.

Sophia Eleni’s young refugee does not give us her name – maybe she can’t – as she stands before us, clearly still processing the events that have befallen her, forcing her to fight for survival by any means. Looking back those experiences, on her journey from citizen to refugee, she offers up pieces of memory, recollections, feelings, that having been shattered, reflect the sheer level of trauma that so many experience.

Richard Owen’s lighting is skilfully employed to help us navigate the non-linear structure. And Eleni’s own sound design and compositions act as a further thread. But the point isn’t to make sense of it all, there is no sense to this kind of horror, to the utter disorientation that it wreaks on people. To an audience who lose it when they have to wait more than 5 minutes for a tube, On Arriving demands that you ask what hardship really is.

Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
Photo: Steve Gregson
On Arriving is booking at the VAULT Festival until 9th February

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