Moving play addresses migrant heartache


Afza Awad and Rosemary Harris in Map of Me, Pic: Half Moon Theatre

Map of Me is moving and educational – it is the migrant story that everybody should be aware of.

Set in a darkened room in the Half Moon Theatre, Limehouse, with only two stools and a clipboard, one young girl shares her journey from Africa to the UK as she flees the horrors that war has brought upon her.

Although the play is intended for younger audiences, its topic will resonate with people of all ages and backgrounds, highlighting many current issues with immigration and dramatising a perspective that is so often ignored.

Map of Me is a tale filled with innocence, pain and happiness as the young girl finds her way in a whole new environment. She is accompanied on stage by an immigration officer who acts as the clinical, unemotional counterpart to her story.

Azfa Awad does an incredible job of performing the child-like innocence of a six-year-old experiencing new sensations in a new country whilst never losing focus of the intense circumstances child migrants are face everyday.

The piece provides an often neglected angle when exploring the immigration, one that really humanises and drives home the awful conditions that some migrants have to deal with.

As the young girl recalls the stomping of the soldiers boots when they storm into her town and her house, it’s hard to ignore the sadness that blossoms in your chest as you reach the stark realisation that this is the reality for a lot of people.

Rosemary Harris, who plays the immigration officer, really shines as the performance comes to a close as the officer begins to become humanised to the story she has heard and reveals a connection to the young girl that brings the play’s theme of belonging full circle.

During the middle of the 50-minute performance Harris’ role as the immigration officer begins to wear on you as she repeats the same set of questions that serve only to encourage her counter-part to provide more of the story.

In a provocative conclusion the audience is forced to face the comparison of migrants who have the choice to move to the UK and those that do so from a developed country, going into detail about the migrants who are forced to flee unimaginable horrors, leaving them with no choice but to seek refuge in places like the UK.

Of course the timing of Map of Me is pertinent –  immigration is a hotly debated topic in the UK and the rest of Europe, with many viewing mass migration with fear and uncertainty.

Map of Me takes this ignorance and humanises it on a much smaller scale but one that will leave you thinking and re-assessing all that you thought you knew about the crisis.

It is a thought-provoking piece interspersed with themes of belonging, war and home. From breath-taking descriptions of Africa and Scotland to simply seeing snow for the first time both actresses give such poetic performances, it is difficult to walk away from Map of Me without feeling moved.

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