Posts Tagged ‘Jonny Steinberg’

I’ve seen and loved every Isango show that’s visited these shores over the last fifteen years and this is no exception. After three operas, adaptations of Shakespeare & Dickens and The Mysteries (three times!), this true story of a Somalian refugee is very different to what came before. Seeing it on the day when the Calais refugee camp was cleared gave it even greater resonance.

Asad loses his mother aged 8 during inter-tribal conflict in his home country. With no family to look after him, he heads for Kenya where he is ‘adopted’ by Yindy in a refugee camp, until she obtains papers to enter the US, leaving him alone once more. From here his route takes him to Ethiopia and on to South Africa, where his cousin takes him into his township convenience shop business.

In South Africa, the backlash against Somalians results in the death of his cousin and continual threats to Asad. He finds himself in a refugee camp once more, where the inter-tribal conflict amongst the Somalis takes us full circle. Asad defends a Somalian woman with a young child whom he subsequently marries and obtains papers for the three of them to enter the US.

It’s based on the book of the same title by Jonny Steinberg, who interviewed Asad intermittently over two years to obtain his story, scenes of which bookend the show. Asad says he won’t read the book as he doesn’t want to bring back memories of those he has lost. Isango’s trademark music adds much, played on wooden marimbas (fond memories of their extraordinary marimba overture to The Magic Flute!), makeshift percussion, hands and feet and glorious rousing vocals.

Despite the tragic nature of Asad’s story, it is an uplifting, hopeful evening and its great to have them back.


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