On Arriving, Vault Festival

A young woman fights to survive her country’s destruction. We journey through falling in love, losing family, and leaving everything. Who are we when we lose what we call home?

In this monologue from writer Ivan Faute we follow a young woman and her family through displacement. When war means you cannot stay in the one place you called home where do you go and will you ever get to come back.

Sophia Eleni stars as the young woman, nameless, along with her father, son, husband, brother, auntie and her own mother who has died before their exodus. It is personal yet distant she invites us into her relationships, with her family, with her husband and even with her unborn child who she hopes will be a girl. It is never confirmed why she wanted a daughter but in hindsight war takes men, young men, away.

Searchout Theatre

In partnership with Refugee Action Faute, who has extensive experience of working with Bosnian refugees in the US presents the story of those who risk it all through traffickers and unsafe boats and forces the audience to question not the just the why and how of the situation but what they would do for their families and for themselves. Eleni, who also works as sound designer on this production is a compelling performer. She seems to age before our eyes in this non-linear production. The optimism of a young woman courting a young man, the impending birth of her child make way for the perils of war such as walking through mud and a vivid account of her boat journey aided by Richard Owen’s fantastic lighting and video design.

Searchout Theatre

Eleni’s sound design really comes into its own during a scene about a bombing, as the character imagines the men behind the bombs the noise is vividly compared to thunder (this is one of the few productions at the Vaults aided by the trains above). Despite the simple staging (Eleni, a bag and some chairs) this is a evocative production from director Cat Robey and I expect to this to have a future outside the festival.

On Arriving is on until 9 February https://vaultfestival.com/whats-on/on-arriving/

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