A BUNDLE OF INSIGHTS
“What is most personal is most universal,” said Carl Jung. We can discover the truth of this in Lynn and Dave Morris’ new play, The Bundle. It follows one woman’s journey from a heartless home and abusive marriage through her escape to Britain, her reception here, and her struggle to get refugee status, and touches our hearts and enlarges our understanding more than pages of statistics. This is a deeply moving and highly professional production, which they researched and wrote. It was commissioned from their company, Journeymen Theatre, by the Quaker Asylum Seeker and Refugee Network.
The play tells the true and unfinished story of a Russian-Chechen woman, though many details have been changed to protect her identity. We first see Adilah as a teenager with her Chechen father and aunt, forced into marriage with a bullying man she doesn’t know. We long for her to escape to safety. Then she qualifies as a lawyer, but this does not free her from the stifling expectations of her culture. When she does save the money to bring her three children secretly to England, with the help of a man she only knows from the internet, it seems her dream is realised. But then we watch her trying to find a way to get through the traps and difficulties our national system has set up for people like her. There is no violence of the sort she knew back home, and she is often treated with courtesy though with few real touches of sympathy; but increasingly I felt that Kafka might have created the maze in which she struggles. The case of the real-life model for Adilah has now gone to appeal. The play leaves us there, not knowing the conclusion to her story. It ends with a passionate plea from Lynn Morris in her own person, saying “We need each other now”.
The play largely tells Adilah’s story step by step. But there are two burlesque episodes, in the style of political caricatures, which take us into the Home Secretary’s office to see the forging of the policies which constrict her. In another scene, the head of a school which is crammed with immigrant children tries to convince a sceptical OFSTED inspector that the success that she is achieving with them far outweighs her failure to reach government learning targets at age five. She is a real person, who told Lynn and Dave, “I break the law every day in this school”. And we are briefly shown an old man at the doctors, pouring out his views about the unfairness which he thinks migrants have brought to this country. These episodes do not tell us what to conclude: as in Shakespeare, we are simply invited to watch what happens and explore our own reactions
A Review by John Lampen