Penetrating Europe, or Migrants Have Talent

Molodyi Teatre combine verbatim accounts of migration from the Ukraine to the UK with a Britain’s Got Talent pastiche in a bizarre satire of modern-day xenophobia. Our host, dressed in the colours of the Ukrainian flag, welcomes us to an evening of ‘talent’ and terrible jokes.

Molodyi Teatr must be commended for their ambitious attempt at satire.

The show flits between two different pieces of theatre: the faux talent show, and verbatim accounts; of a woman travelling illegally from the Ukraine to UK, and a man holidaying to the Ukraine. Their accounts puncture the silliness of the talent show with some serious matter and balance one another nicely, crossing over at important moments. Their experiences illustrate the difference in treatment of UK citizens by border control in comparison to Ukrainian citizens. This part of the show in particular has some potential, however delivery is wholly unconvincing.

Amidst this seriousness is plenty of audience interaction. When we enter the theatre, on our seats are two pieces of card: one red and one green. Good judge, bad judge duo Nigella and Nigel, respectively, have control over who stays and who goes. Unless they disagree, in which case, we, “the Great Scottish Public”, get to decide. At the end of the show, we are asked to hold up our cards: a red card will get the contestant deported, and a green card will allow them to stay (Green Card, geddit?).

There’s no doubt that this is an important piece of theatre with a well-delivered message. However, the show itself unfortunately falls down on the side of unexciting, as opposed to cutting satire. There’s plenty of frivolities and eccentricities that have the potential to be good. The contestants appearing from large plastic carrier bags, for example, is a great touch. A contestant dressed as a clown delivering a very poignant message is arguably the best part of the show, and shows the potential in the material.

Yet the jokes remain one-dimensional throughout and performances overall leave the show falling flat. Molodyi Teatr must be commended for their ambitious attempt at satire. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough talent amongst them to pull it off.

Reviews by Ellie Coote

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The Blurb

How does it feel to cross the border in a coffin? Or in a fridge? How does it feel to pretend to be someone you're not? Part verbatim theatre, part musical comedy and part talent show, Penetrating Europe tells the real stories of how a bunch of Ukrainian migrants sneak into Fortress Europe, and how one random British guy goes the other way. You'll laugh, you'll cry and at the end of the show we'll give you, the Great British Public, the final say on who gets to stay and who gets sent home!