Exodus

Uma Nada-Rajah
National Theatre of Scotland
Traverse Theatre

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Sophie Steer, Aryan Ramkhalawon and Anna Russell-Martin in Exodus. Credit: Tim Morozzo
Sophie Steer as Phoebe Bernays, Aryana Ramkhalawon as Asiya Rao and Anna Russell as Tobi Tucker Credit: Tim Morozzo

The basic storyline of Uma Nada-Rajah’s political comedy Exodus could have come from the front pages of recent newspapers.

The prime minister is said to be “on his last legs” and a shallow woman Home Secretary of Asian heritage has her eye on becoming the replacement. To that end, she is launching a new initiative to combat the UK’s deadliest problem refugees.

The new defence named Project Womb involves surrounding the UK with a radiation field that, in addition to putting a stop to all those refugees, will deter foreign fish from swimming too close. Apparently, “British fish are delighted.”

Sophie Steer is both visually and verbally furiously funny as the hatchet head of staff Phoebe Bernays who has planned a launch of the policy at Dover with Home Secretary Asiya RaoAnna (Aryana Ramkhalawon) being photographed in a yellow high visibility jacket and then interviewed on the train back by a safe journalist who will meet her supposed mother played by an actor.

Unfortunately, things keep going wrong. Phoebe wakes up the morning of the event in a stranger's bed after a night on the tiles to hear no actor is available. Since the stranger Haben Haile (Habiba Saleh) is an actor, she agrees to fill in for the role. Phoebe finds out later that Haben’s politics aren't entirely her own.

As they prepare for the photoshoot, a live baby washes up on the shore close to Asiya. To avoid it becoming the story, they stuff it in a bag. To make matters worse, the safe journalist has been replaced by someone who might frighteningly be someone who wants to tell the truth.

This is a fast-paced, good-natured farce in which no babies are injured but all your cynical suspicions about politicians are confirmed. Much of it is improbable, some of it is unbelievable and it could be said to generally lack a serious bite. However, it is entertaining and, unlike much of the media, is sympathetic to refugees.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna