Socialist Worker

Hands of friendship

by Mark Brown
Issue No. 1761

AS NEWSPAPER editors and politicians ignore the tragic consequences of their anti-refugee statements, some of our best dramatists are responding with brilliant plays about the experiences of asylum seekers. The latest drama to combine great theatre writing with a commitment to telling the truth about the asylum issue is Hannah and Hanna by Company of Angels. The play was a huge hit at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

It is the story of two young women. One woman is an alienated working class girl from Margate, the other a refugee from Kosovo 'dispersed' to the Kent seaside town. It is a moving and brutally honest piece of theatre.

Everything about the play, from the young Englishwoman's initial resentment against refugees to the friendship between her and the girl from Kosovo, rings true. The stories the two girls tell, the songs they sing and the descriptions of racist abuse strike a real chord with the experiences of refugees and anti-racists in Margate and throughout Britain.

The play is powerfully acted. Hannah and Hanna is a brilliant example of theatre which carries a political punch without feeling the need to preach.

The political commitment of its playwright, John Retallack, was underlined when he went on the march with refugees and residents on the Sighthill united demonstration in Glasgow instead of collecting the play's award from the Herald newspaper.

Hannah and Hanna is at the Arcola Theatre, Stoke Newington, London until 29 September. Phone 020 7503 1646 for more details. Look out for other performances in Glasgow and around the country.


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Reviews
Sat 11 Aug 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1761
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