Playhouse Theatre, Northumberland Avenue, London WC2N 5DE
The Jungle was Europe’s largest unofficial refugee camp and a temporary home to more than 10,000 people.
Following a sell out run at the Young Vic in 2017, The Jungle transferred to the West End in June 2018. Written by Joe Robertson and Joe Murphy, The Jungle is based on their first-hand experiences as founders of the Good Chance pop up theatre in the refugee and migrant camp of Calais.
As I entered the auditorium, I was transported into an unfamiliar alien environment and felt completely disorientated. All traditional theatre seats and traditional stage have been removed. Designer Miriam Buether’s set creates an immersive theatre experience. Weaving my way through a corridor made of MDF, pushing through sheets of thick plastic with pieces of bark scrunching under my feet, I found myself in the Afghan café. The café experience included a man making naan bread in a make shift kitchen whilst the aroma of spices filled the air. Audience members sit on long benches set next to raised table walk ways on which the actors perform. Flags of various nations and fairy lights adorn the rough wood chip walls, along with video screens, whilst members of the cast hand out cups of chai to audience members.
Directors Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin have created a fast-paced, heartbreaking piece of theatre which is honest and raw.
The Jungle starts and ends with a death and the destruction of the camp in 2016. The story is told by Safi, an English literature student from Syria played with convincing sadness by Ammar Haj Ahmad.
Ben Turner is excellent as the Afghan restaurant owner Salar, who’s food received a 4 star rated review by A.A Gill of the Times.
I was moved to tears many times in this production but particularly by the performance of John Pfumojena as 17-year-old Okot from Darfur, who’s harrowing story left him both physically and mentally scarred.
This a very strong cast who each deliver believable moving performances resulting in a piece of theatre that is unique and outstanding. There is great light and laughter in this production at times when laughter should have been impossible. It not only sheds light on the tragic experiences of so many refugees but it educates the audience on cultural backgrounds and traditions that were associated with communities living within The Jungle.
It is extremely hard to put into words the impact that this production had and still has on me. It is one of the most powerful productions that I have ever seen and I would urge everyone to see it.
Heartbreaking, unique and real
We say: “Heartbreaking and powerful. The impact of The Jungle is immeasurable!”