Going Through at Bush Theatre
The critically acclaimed play by French writer Estelle Savasta, directed by Omar Elerian, is a sensitive thought-provoking tale reflecting issues surrounding the modern migrant issue. Going Through tells of the trafficking of Nour, a young girl who is sent away by Youmna, her deaf adoptive mother, from a land of conflict and war. Translated from the French Traversée by Kirsten Hazel Smith, the work is sectioned into three parts, presenting the relationship between child and adoptive mother, and Nour’s eventual arrival in Britain.
In keeping with Bush Theatre’s objectives, the production is accessible for both deaf and hearing audiences, involving sign language, spoken dialogue and creative captioning, which is projected onto the moving walls of the stage. In an undisclosed country, Nour (Charmaine Wombwell) and Youmna (Nadia Nadarajah) develop a close bond, filled with humour and tenderness. Sound design by Elena Peńa accentuates the poignancy in Savasta’s play, while Rajha Shakiry’s production design creates the illusion of being in a barren desert, the textured backdrop evoking sand dunes and caves.
As the situation gradually worsens, Nour is sent on a journey to start a better life with her birth mother. Wombwell captures the child-like qualities of her character with expressive body movement, and dialogue, describing the first driver as “the man with the frank smile”. During her crossing, throughout which Nour has to dress as a boy, she experiences many things she cannot communicate on, as the audience are left to reflect on how “it’s not always children’s stories that happen to children”.
Though Wombwell does overlook some dialogue she quickly recovers, and her reading of Nour’s diary entries is so moving that the line between actor and character becomes blurred. Nadarajah’s performance is excellent as the loving mother, but her role is made a little redundant during later scenes. Despite this, the audience are left humbled and shedding tears, evidently touched.
A timely and sensitively produced play, Going Through enhances the power of language, while shining light on the complex migrant situation, and life in a new country.
Photo: Ali Wright
Going Through is at Bush Theatre from 4th until 27th April 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.