Brighton Fringe 2009
A slightly absurd tragicomedy about the life of two polish emigrants in the cramped conditions of a camper parked somewhere in Western Europe. In this particular case, parked in the conspicuously almost car-less pedestrian zone in front of the Unitarian Church in New Road, Brighton.
Out of this blue heavily graffitied thirty-seven year old Mercedes converted camper conversion appears a young man who proceeds to rapturously embrace everyone within reach as though he were greeting a host of long-lost relatives. After ushering us all inside, he and one other young man play out before us the ups and downs of their very diverse relationship to one-another and to the world they find themselves in.
But of course it’s not as simple as that. Although this is by no means the first play to deal with the theme of emigration, the difference with this production is that you as the audience are literally placed on the stage and are participating or voyeuristically looking on while the characters tangle themselves into knots two feet away!
This is perhaps the strongest and the strangest feature of the performance. It’s like being invited to someone’s house and sitting in their kitchen and living their lives with them for an hour. At one point audience participation even becomes obligatory when we are required to stand in as guests for the New Year’s Eve party. We are ceremoniously given party hats and whistles and a shot of something which tastes strong and home-brewed and then the show gradually builds to a climax and, as the characters fortify themselves with alcohol, we find out what really matters.
‘Emigrants’ is an exceptionally well-written piece and the two actors, Radoslaw Smuzny and Krystian Wieczynski, deliver an energetic and touching performance as AA and XX. There is nothing remotely fake or overdone in their interpretation of life on the bread line and their argument over whether or not dog food can also be used for human consumption is simultaneously hilarious and poignant.
Despite the fact that this is actually a reworking of Slawomir Mrozek’s basement play and was originally written in 1974, it is now perhaps even more relevant in it’s political implications in 2009 and if you are lucky enough to get a chance to see it then don’t hesitate.