Hostel 16 – Review

Smock Alley Theatre

Tiger Dublin Fringe

17/9/16

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Like many, I had questions as to the decision to produce a play about the direct provision system with an entirely white, Irish ensemble. Would it work, producing a true insight into the relationship between asylum seekers in Ireland and the system in which they live, or would it be an uncomfortable appropriation of people’s stories?

The answer to that question is that yes, it did work. Using their own names and some powerful symbols, the production creates a sense of presenting, rather than adopting the stories of people living in direct provision. Under the direction of Raymond Keane, the cast present a nuanced and insightful examination of the direct provision system and its effect on people living within it.

Fionnuala Gygax’s well-crafted script gives the audience a chance to see into the all too hidden problems of direct provision in Ireland. Following eleven different characters in the days leading up to a protest outside the centre they live in, Gygax conveys the everyday difficulties of families in such situations. From the little girl who realises just how little she has after going to a classmate’s birthday party, to the young couple wondering how they are going to bring up their new baby in the small room and dire financial straits in which they live, everyone has a different experience, but everyone is struggling in their own way.

Lisa Kearns’ sparse set, with white lines on the stage marking out rooms, effectively conveys the cramped spaces in which people live, while maintaining an open stage that suggests the sense of community between the characters.

Hostel 16 examines the pertinent problem of the Irish direct provision system with depth, clarity and sensitivity, drawing the personal and political together into a powerful and moving piece of theatre.

Hostel 16 runs in Smock Alley Theatre as part of Tiger Dublin Fringe until 18th September.

 

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