An idea cocktail

11 April 2017

There are many aspects of the refugee crisis that No Human is Illegal attempts to explore, says Adam Hutton, some more effectively than others


I am going to begin by saying that I will treat No Human is Illegal as a piece of art. Not as a play that was good for sixth formers. It was good for sixth formers, and parts of it were good in general, but I would be doing this show a disservice to simply write it off as good for sixth formers.

The show deals with the refugee crisis, which is a topic that presents many avenues to explore for an artist. This show seemed to be attempting to tackle them all. The piece felt like a jumble of ideas, with none of them feeling like they had been given enough time to fully develop. 

As a result of this, it felt tonally disjointed, an example that springs to mind is the community meeting scene, which came after a simple yet effective section involving flags. The power of the image created, which I personally took to mean it doesn't matter what country you are from, we are all human, was undermined by the strange “comedic” juxtaposition of different gendered voices coming from people's mouths. It felt like something from a different play entirely. The fact it was followed by another serious moment further emphasised this. Perhaps it should have been placed earlier in the play. With the tone growing steadily more serious as it progressed. 

Important ideas are being tackled in this piece, but I feel that more time should be given to planning what you want to be said by your piece, one or two strong ideas (for example, the idea that we aren't inviting refugees because of the lack of profit in them and how little we think about this issue when it is a constant worry for the refugees) really explored and shown would have made for a very powerful piece of work, and I get why this didn't happen. This was, after all a piece by sixth formers. Given a few more years’ experience and learning, I'm sure this group will be more than capable of achieving something very impactful.

At 30 minutes, this play tackles a lot, which is commendable. I do feel, however, that I could have happily sat for another 15-20 minutes while each idea was more fully explored.

To sum up

This show was like the cooking mechanic of the new Zelda: you throw loads of things into the pot and see what you end up with. Unfortunately, this piece was less a hearty roasted meat and more of a dubious food.

Stray observations

  • I really need to learn what flags are for which countries, I am woefully unaware

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Photo credit: Giulia Delprato