The Bogus Woman

Directed by Zoe Waterman
Unity Theatre, Hope Place
2nd October 2015

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

Ticking All The Wrong Boxes

The auditorium was packed and, as if to presage what was to come, the doors were locked to any latecomers, while those inside were confined to their seats, to sweat out a claustrophobic 80 minutes of breathless monologue and movement from Krissi Bohn, the Bogus Woman of the title.

However, the ex-Coronation Street actress provided much more to proceedings with a further fifty character impersonations, (a few good but most of them bad or ugly), all brought to life in a bravura, gut wrenching performance.

Bogus means counterfeit; spurious; not genuine. The moment she lands, (the action is set in the 1990's to the present day) seeking asylum, things begin to go wrong when her Bona fides, in the eyes of Immigration Control, don't add up.

Genuinely seeking a new life in England as a journalist, she becomes incarcerated in the confines of a system of detention and control, as her case for being allowed into the country is processed.

Along the way interrogation officers, guards at detention centres, her legal aid man, and Counsel for HM Government are all brought to life, as the action seesaws between memories of her family and baby in the Africa she was fleeing from and the opinion poll-wary politicians of left or right whose legal system she is now in.

Hearings assessing mental and physical health come and go as the debilitating effects of enforced incarceration and alienation take their toll.

Finally, because a kindly external visitor offers her an address to stay in, she is granted six months Temporary Admission, and marvels at the sights and freedom of London, while running down her dwindling supply of cash.

This happy period is disastrously cut short and a new set of events bring on the gutter and ultimate degradation, as she slips through society's last safety net.

Her denouement comes in a heartless last tribunal cross-examination of staggering callousness.

Director Zoe Waterman's take on Kay Adshead's dark script was never going to be an easy night. The austere and menacing stage design from Sophia Lovell Smith was echoed by the harsh lighting and soundscape that accompanied the action in less than happy moments.

Credit must also go to Accent Coach Elspeth Morrison, but the night belonged to Bohn's phenomenal performance.This was a play not to be missed.

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