The Special Relationship

By Hassan Abdulrazzak

Soho Theatre, London 

March, 2020

4/5

When Hassan Abdulrazzak began interviewing British people who had been deported from America, his plan was to use it as the starting point for a play. Yet he realised he couldn’t embroider their accounts. This urgent drama deftly braids together six verbatim tales of deportation. We see the divorcee (Moyo Akande) who, after 20 years in the US, committed one too many driving violations; the Irishman (Fergal McElherron) convicted of minor drugs offences, who just wants to see his daughter again; the dour Sunderland man (Duncan Wisbey) who murdered his girlfriend. Lest this should feel too dry, Wisbey also pops up as a gurning Donald Trump, tripping the surreal fantastic with Theresa May (a hilariously robotic Miranda Foster). It all comes with winking commentary from a broad-shouldered, snake-hipped immigration and customs enforcement officer (Nicholas Beveney). That may be a dance step too far. If we can forgive the fact that no benefit of the doubt is given to the police or the politicians, only to the perpetrators, we could also survive with fewer musical numbers. As it is, these sobering witness statements achieve a powerful force.