After a hit London run in 2018, The Claim comes to Edinburgh Festival Fringe, now staged in the round, as part of the British Council Showcase 2019. Written by Tim Cowbury (Made In China) and directed by Mark Maughan (Michael Grandage Company), The Claim explores one of the most pressing global issues facing society: migration.
Serge stands before us. He has a performance to give. But why is he here? What is he claiming has happened to him? And what has Willy Wonka got to do with it? A bold, imaginative response to the stories of those seeking refuge in the UK, The Claim is a comically absurd and quietly shattering journey to the heart of our tolerant and fair society.
What happens when your life is at stake and all you have to save it are your words? Both satirising and humanising everyone around the Home Office interview table, this production simultaneously abstracts and faithfully charts the journey of a single asylum claim. Through a dizzying onslaught of bureaucracy and prejudice, Cowbury’s excitingly intense and fast-paced dialogue uses word-play to represent an unjust system that disguises itself as an instrument of justice.
Writer Tim Cowbury comments, As we amp up the volume on The Claim this summer, the Windrush scandal here and the continued rise of xenophobic politics across Europe represent only the most prominent evidence that the play's themes remain urgent. A nuanced and compassionate response to the global migration crisis seems both further away and more necessary than ever. Few situations embody this moment as absurdly, tragically and tellingly as the substantive interview at the heart of every asylum claim in the UK. Throughout the current decade, the Home Office has changed extremely little about the way it processes asylum claims, despite mountains of evidence that its system is not fit for purpose. The Claim speaks to this failing, and to a time that’s more fractiously globalised than ever before in which the language of place and identity is unprecedentedly fraught.
Using much first hand research into the refugee experience in the UK, the creative team spent two years researching and developing the show by spending time at immigration courts, working closely with asylum seekers and refugees and working with representatives from migrant organisations. The Claim seeks to not just raise awareness, but to ask bigger questions of the UK’s relationship with those from elsewhere. A series of wraparound activities will facilitate spaces for these issues to be addressed further.