Dear Home Office 2: Still Pending

Dawn Harrison

Phosphoros Theatre

Gilded Balloon Teviot

From 21 August 2017 to 27 August 2017

Rating: ***

Review by Keith Mckenna

Dear Home Office 2: Still Pending traces the fictional stories of a number of refugees in the UK from Somalia Afghanistan and Albania. It is derived from many of the real experiences of asylum seekers and cast members.

We see some of the urgent difficulties in finding a place to live, and the long bureaucratic waits at council offices that are supposed to organise emergency accommodation, and could just as easily be called the redirection centres for what appears to be their preferred response.

The ability to wait patiently for great periods of time is the perfect quality for a refugee as they wait for temporary accommodation and some kind of decision on the right even to remain.

When Akram’s application for asylum is rejected, there are the difficulties in getting legal advice due to the cuts in Legal Aid funding. Though he gets to an appeal court, his advisor seems reluctant to allow him to admit he can speak English.

The lack of emotional support also has consequences for one refugee who, after suffering very disturbed dreams which wake other people, finds the post-traumatic stress too difficult to bear and walks into water with no intention of returning.

Work and education may help to integrate and stabilise refugees but getting these can be near impossible. We see them get casual labour delivering pizzas and selling at a fried chicken stall for three pounds an hour.

Elgin, the eighteen-year-old from Albania, wants to continue education but when he asks about a business degree is told it would cost him sixteen thousand a year and is shunted onto a level two childcare course at a college.

The dialogue and the acting can often seem stilted and in need of development but the situations depicted seem very real and provide an insight into the continuing lack of support given to refugees who have often suffered terrible trauma.