Fit For Purpose

Fit For Purpose
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)
3 stars ***

THERE’S NO DOUBTING the good intentions of Catherine O’Shea’s 2010 play, presented jointly on the Fringe by the Pleasance and the End Child Detention Now campaign. Set in the notorious Yarl’s Wood detention centre, it tells the story of two detainees from Somalia, driven out of their country by tribal wars and by shocking abuse within their own family, and then further abused by a detention system manned by stupid, inhumane staff sunk in a culture of casual racism and institutionalised disbelief.

It goes without saying that there is an unceasing obligation to keep raising public awareness of the suffering of those caught up in a system which the British government could transform tomorrow, if it had the political courage to do so. As theatre, though, Fit for Purpose is almost as dull and obvious as it is worthy. Only people previously unaware of this issue could possibly gain much new insight or information from it, despite two beautiful central performances from Anna Maria Nabirye and Zeni Sekabanja; and although it has an obvious educational value, it misses out on the key role of art, which is not only to describe a situation which needs changing, but to be, in itself, part of that imaginative change.

Joyce McMillan
Until 29 August
p. 262


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