Review: There’s No Place Like, Above The Arts Theatre

Hannah used to be a teacher but, since moving to the UK, she now works as a barmaid at the pub. Young Jordan walks into the bar; he has just lost his job and six months ago he lost his mother, and the pair soon get talking. Jordan is looking for an end to the sentence, “There’s no place like…”.

Inspired by the general elections and recent current affairs, writer and performer Lilac Yosiphon looks at one of the most central subjects leading up to the elections – immigration. Her character, Hannah, is an immigrant in the UK and really hits many points that are misunderstood in the UK when it comes to immigration and establishing a home. Jordan (Thomas Finch) shows naivety in this subject (among others) as it takes him most of the play to understand why Hannah is so determined to stay in the UK and make it her home.

At first it seems unclear how the performance is going to take place, as there is no real stage space and a bar covers the half of the floor space that isn’t being filled up by the audience. It soon becomes clear that the bar is in fact the stage, and the whole room becomes the pub setting. The actors interact with the audience just enough to build a pub atmosphere in such a creative use of space.

Although both actors give really great performances, the nerves are visible at times and the emotions the characters are meant to have do get a little bit lost. The pair have a really beautiful moment when Hannah teaches Jordan an Israeli song – ‘A Song With No Name’ – as she shares part of her culture with Jordan and the audience. The lyrics are translated in the programme so that the audience can understand the meaningfulness of the words.

This show communicates an incredibly valuable lesson and one that larger audiences probably need to hear. It teaches that not every immigrant has the same story and that we can never truly understand the politics and cultures of other countries if we choose to be blind and just accept what we are told. Yosiphon does a wonderful job of treating serious and difficult matters with a light sense of humour, yet the comedy never overtakes the seriousness of the subject.

The show leaves the audience wondering how they would end the sentence, “There’s no place like…”

There’s No Place Like played at Above The Arts Theatre until 17 June. For more information, see the Arts Theatre website.