In the wake of Brexit, we hear the rise of racism and exclusion to points that we simply cannot fathom. It seems commonplace now to hear of murmurs in the street of hating refugee scroungers looking to find a way to reduce movement of people into Britain. England is starting to feel like an intimidating place to be right now unless you are ‘truly British’. Our previous thoughts of a liberal country are not what they seemed. Now We Are Here tells the story of four refugees who have fled from their own countries to come to London under similar circumstances; their countries and cultures have not accepted them as LGBT.
When the audience enter the studio theatre in The Young Vic they are greeted by three chairs with pared back timber walls, exposed lighting and fire exit signs. Only the bare minimum is needed for the vulnerable characters to lay their stories in this exposed space. We are met by Desmond, Mir and Michael (played by Gary Beadle, Manish Gandhi and Jonathan Livingstone) who begin to relay their struggles in their home countries through separate, overlapping monologues. As the stories progress, the quicker the monologues interchange. The words are sharp, witty and on point; with each tale progressing with more sadness and intensity. The stories of the three men are verbatim pieces by Desmond Jolly, Mir Ahmed and Michael Mugishangyezi in collaboration with the spoken word artist Deanna Roger. The actors in the first half told each story with intensity and depth, conveying the pain and the struggle that has been endured in their past and the hope that they hold for their future.
Tamara lays lifeless and lost on her great grandmothers bed, reminiscent of the smells and comforts she once had as a child in Jamaica. Tamara is played by Golda Roshuevel who brings us on the journey of Tamara’s sexual awakening in Jamaica. An innocent and all encompassing love story of two young girls, who find each other in a society that won’t accept them. Tamara fears for her life and the fate that may meet her great grandmother and Kadine if his sexual identity is discovered. The monologue was incredibly well written, clever and funny, holding onto every word, Roshuevel spoke in hope for a happy ending. The piece was heart wrenching, intense and truly poignant.
Now We Are Here is intense, real and a frank telling of the reality for refugees in Britain. Every story was one to leave home in desperate measures, where safety in their home country was high risk. Coming to London gave Tamara, Desmond, Mir and Michael the chance to live their lives freely to the full extent. This production communicated the honest and home truths of what it is to be a refugee in London today and why they seek out to like in this ‘liberal’ country. I was truly touched and overwhelmed by the production as a whole and I only wish that every person in Britain could see it.
Now We Are Here runs at the Young Vic until the 30 July. Find out more on the Young Vic website.