The Vaults (cavern) Leake Street
Did you know the UK government are experts on love? They even pay out vast sums for special panels to assess the extent someone is truly in love with their partner. Never mind taking their word for it. Better look at their social media activity, their pictures, their letters to each other and any references. In Britain, love better be love really.
Michelle Sewell’s play Border Control imagines a panel of three officials involved in just such a process, as they dissect the evidence on the relationship of Yasmine and Edward for the purposes of deciding whether Edward’s partner, Yasmine, is to be granted leave to remain. This trawl of e-mail traffic, the questions about their living arrangements and even the examination of their shopping habits feels intrusive, but if they have provided the wrong material, then they are done. That’s it. The victim is out.
We never see the couple and the three unnamed officials dressed smartly in white shirts speak dispassionately about their subjects. The procedure is shocking. Even then, we are surprised at the Catch 22 that gets Yasmine rejected despite one of the officials pointing out they are treating women differently than men. What does it matter if there’s a bit of sexism if it's in the public interest?
This sharp, confidently performed piece is each night followed by an after-show discussion by a panel of those working with applicants. It doesn't include a Tory. Despite numerous invitations, they never have anyone available.
The event is chaired by BBC Radio 2’s Paul Gambaccini, who recalls the time in 1978 when he simply applied for leave to remain and without fuss was given it without restrictions. But times they change and we are told the requirements now seem to get modified three times a year, which means the next time Border Control is performed, it will be a different show.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna