Life & Culture

Theatre review: Flight

A show about refugees which uses tiny hand-made figures is an eye-opener


Flight Vox Motus / Candice Edmunds / Jamie Harrison / Oliver Emanuel / Caroline Brothers World Premiere Two young orphaned brothers embark on a desperate odyssey to freedom and safety. With their small inheritance stitched into their clothes, they set off on an epic journey across Europe, in a heart-wrenching road story of terror, hope and survival. Renowned Scottish theatre company Vox Motus adapts Caroline Brothers 2012 novel Hinterland, in a magical experience that combines unsettling themes with spellbinding images. Flight brings you up close and intimate to this heartbreaking story in a unique, deeply individual experience. Seated in your own personal booth, you will watch the action unfold on images and models slowly moving in front of you, with speech and music conveyed through your own individual headphones. Mixing graphic novel with exquisite diorama, Flight draws you into its fragile miniature world and allows you to contemplate its gripping story of two children lost in dangerous lands. 4 -

For most of us Covid may have stopped life as we know it in its tracks. But for the refugees and migrants trying to get to the UK via life-threatening routes across seas in flimsy, overcrowded boats, or by road while hidden in locked refrigerated lorries, life continued as normal, which is to say terrifying and desperate.

This beautifully crafted show conveys more about those who make the journey than has been managed by years of often unsympathetic press coverage. Inspired by Caroline Brothers’ 2011 novel Hinterland, theatre company Vox Motus have created a show like no other in which the characters are not actors but tiny hand-made models.

The show - part-theatre, part-installation - is co-directed by Candice Edmunds and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child illusion designer Jamie Harrison. The result is an incredibly intimate way of conveying an epic crisis. It’s like watching 3-D graphic novel populated by Lilliputian-sized people, most no taller, and certainly no fatter, than half a finger.

The story centres on the fictional yet typical story of young brothers Aryan and Kabir who attempt to make the 4,000 mile journey from Afghanistan to London. Though the show was designed before the pandemic, it is by nature Covid secure with each member of the audience led to individual booths where they don headphones. Over the following 45 minutes 280 delicately lit, exquisitely detailed scenes, most small enough to hold in the palm of a hand, relate the brothers’ journey.


The route is festooned with hazards and cruelty, but (very) occasional acts of kindness too that keep them going as does their the mantra, “Kabul, Tehran, Istanbul, London”, the last never further away than when they reach Calais and the barrier of the English channel.

I once reported from  the notorious Jungle camp in Calais and although the place was brimful of human spirit before the French authorities dismantled it, I can confirm that the creators have captured its unforgiving, cold and dangerous essence. If they are right about that they will be right about how the world has endless ways to make them feel unwelcome.

You can lean in as close to the miniatures as you like and study the expressions of fear and occasional fleeting joy, such as the time when they go swimming from an Italian beach.

You are of course requested never to touch. Yet knowing that you physically can (don’t!) brings home the fragility of the lives represented here.

And although the methods used are playful, the show contains harrowing scenes of exploitation. So be warned about taking children, especially as they will be in a booth on their own. But they will at least leave with a sense of having met and even known the people who want nothing more blameworthy than a decent life, and who often die in the attempt to find it.


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