Undercover Refugee

The refugee crisis is undoubtedly difficult to discuss. However it is one of the most important and controversial issues of the year. Often the refugees are dehumanised in a number of fear-mongering tabloid stories, but it’s plain to see that their suffering is real. Surely, anyone on the side of Team Humanity should be doing all that they can to help, and if that helping happens to bring some Facebook ‘likes’ along with it, then that is just a perk of the job.

Although Houge seems likable and well-meaning, the performance itself comes over as self-congratulatory and patronising.

Karen Houge presents us a one-woman show, telling the story of the summer she spent in Labos, trying to save some refugee lives and get a tan. It’s a story of real struggle and friendship. She speaks to the audience directly to teach them something they probably already knew – the Syrians don’t actually need a young Norwegian actress to come save them. After going on a trip that she realised was more helping herself than helping the refugees, Karen is here in Edinburgh with a show that is more helping herself than helping the audience.

You could easily be mistaken by the description of the show for thinking that Undercover Refugee is going to be some sort of comedy. However, even if some attempts at humour were made, they definitely failed. Perhaps it’s an issue with timing, or perhaps it’s the material, but none of the jokes seemed to really land, creating awkward moments with a grown woman pretending to be an aeroplane. Although Houge seems likable and well-meaning, the performance itself comes over as self-congratulatory and patronising. What Houge does do well is humanise a group of people who are so often demonised. The stories of the refugees themselves were heart-warming and interesting. Perhaps they should have been the centre of the performance. 

Reviews by Gillian Bain

Assembly George Square Studios

Girl Scouts vs Aliens

★★★★★
Summerhall

The Desk

★★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

M.E.H

★★★
Just the Tonic at The Charteris Centre

Conspiracy Theory: A Lizard's Tale

★★★★
Greenside @ Infirmary Street

Queer Words

★★★
Summerhall

Pussy Riot: Riot Days

★★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

What happens when a 25-year-old Norwegian documentarist and Gaulier-trained actor travels through Europe undercover together with refugees? A show about white heroes, cool policemen and sexy Syrians. Karen Houge went to Lesbos and followed seven Syrian refugees from the beach and through Europa. A new society is formed around the trail; bloggers, journalists, mafia, policemen, refugees and volunteers, functioning together in an absurd system full of paradox. Karen Houge is an Gaulier trained actor, documentarist, stand-up performer and improviser. She describes the journey and the people we meet with depth and humour that takes us beyond tabloid perceptions.

Most Popular See More

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Heathers The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £45.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets