On a bus carrying people fleeing a war-torn country, a man (Jerome Ngonadi) takes a boy (Eve Von Elgg) under his wing. When they arrive in the country where they seek refuge, the assumption is they are father and son, and the man plays along, deciding it is better they stick together.
Joakim Daun's play follows the two through the process to get refugee status - the man can't work until he has the official paperwork - and afterwards when their path crosses that of a woman (Shereen Roushbaiani) who has recently lost a baby.
The early scenes touch on the trauma of refugees and the impersonal process of applying for refugee status.
It also explores the tension between assimilating into a new country and culture without losing your own. The boy's youth means he picks up the new language quickly, but the man is keen that he doesn't lose the language and culture of his home country.
Eve Von Elgg's performance brilliantly captures the energy and innocence of the boy, and where the play is at its best is in its exploration of the struggles of refugees in their adopted country - albeit it does it with a light touch.
The second storyline involving the woman, her relationship with her father and a tussle for who is best placed to look after the boy is less convincing. Certain actions feel odd and inauthentic.
It raises more questions than it answers and, as a result, it dilutes the play so that any traction developed in the early scenes is lost.
I'm giving The Boy ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Boy, Soho Theatre
Written by Joakim Daun
Directed by Maria Jose Andrade
Performed by Eve von Elgg, Shereen Roushbaiani and Jerome Ngonadi
Running time 70 minutes without an interval
Booking until 4 November; visit the Soho Theatre website for more information and tickets.
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