Originally published on A Younger Theatre
This production of The Bogus Woman was first seen at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake, and audiences around the country have now had the opportunity to see the show as part of the theatre’s recent foray into touring their works. Kay Adshead’s one-woman show is set in the mid-1990s, and was first performed 15 years ago, but it is all too relevant now as the migrant ‘crisis’ in Europe continues to dominate the headlines.
Krissi Bohn stars as the unnamed woman fleeing her country after the slaughter of her family, only to be greeted by callous treatment, accusations of lying and a wall of red tape. Alongside the central character, Bohn plays over 50 other roles as the people she meets along the way: guards at the detention centre, fellow refugees, friendly neighbours, not-so-friendly nurses – and many more. It’s an incredible feat of acting as Bohn shifts from character to character with absolute ease. Her rapid changes of accent are flawless and her mannerisms spot on, creating personalities in seconds in front of our eyes and running the full gamut of tragic to comic. The effect is assisted by Jo Dawson’s clever lighting design, which conjures up countless different locations with no set changes – just a nuanced shift in the warmth and positioning of light takes us from airport to cell, from bus stop to courtroom. The piece does not suffer from this rapid cutting away from scenes, and shifting into something new; on the contrary, it is a bold depiction of issues that have many tangled complexities, and the show quickly becomes utterly absorbing.
Adshead’s script continues to build throughout this 80-minute piece, with notes of light and shade that intermingle to form a rounded character; they offer the audience moments of hope and humour, but also bucketfuls of despair. The monologue’s crescendos and whispers are perfectly pitched, and the final few moments – delivered impassively by Bohn – inspire anger and heartbreak in equal measures. There are certainly moments that make you feel uncomfortable, yet they also feel necessary – this is not a story that can be neatly tied up, folded away and forgotten. It is vital to the piece’s purpose and continuing vitality that audiences continue to ponder on and be moved by this piece long after they have left the theatre. Moreover, the show is deeply cutting about the way in which we, as a country, treat those who crave compassion, kindness and shelter. Not always an easy watch, The Bogus Woman is a fine piece of theatre that will resonate with every person in the audience.
The Bogus Woman is playing at Omnibus, Clapham until 14 November, before returning to the Theatre By The Lake. For more information and tickets, see The Bogus Woman website.
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