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Newbury's Afghan play raises £3k for child refugee charity

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IN The Sea There Are Crocodiles at the Corn Exchange on Wednesday, September 1, and on tour.

Producer Mary Loudon is working with the charity Young Roots in providing long-term support for child refugees in the UK and the company have donated their fees in support of this charity:

“Money raised at Newbury performance: £3K!
Money raised at the Wantage performance the night before: also £3K.
Total raised so far: £6K!!! ALL for YoungRoots. (All production costs met separately, by donors.)
In fact, we have made just a few quid over that 6K...
The rest of the tour should make a lot more, too.
Very, very happy.”

Crossing the sea, picture Mary Loudon
Crossing the sea, picture Mary Loudon

The horrors of Afghanistan, as thousands of people desperately try to escape the country and the rule of the Taliban, is powerfully brought to the stage in a moving adaption of Fabio Geta’s In The Sea There Are Crocodiles by Nicola Moran, who also skilfully directs.

It’s an inspirational true story of the courage and determination of a 10-year-old boy – Enaiat – to survive the hardships he finds himself in. His mother (Rosie Reeves) is forced to leave him to fend for himself in order to return to her home village to look after her younger son.

Enaiat is exploited while working in a hostel for nothing more than his board and lodging. Undeterred, he becomes a street trader selling chewing gum and pays people traffickers to get him to Iran. His friend Sufi (Laurence Burzynski-White) decides to go with him, each supporting the other.

Enaiat works in factories and on building sites, saving money in order to afford to make the torturous dangerous journey by foot across the mountains to Turkey, then by inflatable boat to Greece and finally to Italy and safety. Along the way he is attacked by Iranian soldiers and faces many challenges.

There are three actors playing Enaiat. Daniel Metcalfe is the older boy and sensitively narrates much of the story. Ruari Hopkins-McQuilan is impressive as the young quick-witted 10-year-old, full of energy and hope, while Max Burnett plays the strong-minded teenager.

This is very much an ensemble production with the large cast embracing a myriad of characters with conviction and confidence.

Their precision in inventively creating the various locations using a large silk cloth filling the whole stage to effortlessly create the settings, from mountains to walls, or the false hidden space below a truck and even a boat is to be admired and must have taken hours of rehearsals.

Twenty-one-year old composer Arson Fahim, who is also a former refugee, created an emotive score that heightened the dramatic effect, as did George Jackson’s lighting and sound design.

The young actors, mainly from Newbury and Oxford, had a true sense of ownership of this poignant epic play, giving touching, vivacious performances and should be exceedingly proud of their achievement in this thought-provoking production and the sadness is the issues continue.

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