REVIEW: A poignant and emotional Evening With An Immigrant

PUBLISHED: 09:02 13 October 2016 | UPDATED: 12:11 13 October 2016

Inua Ellams’ show – An Evening With An Immigrant – is at The Cube Microplex, in Bristol.

Inua Ellams' show - An Evening With An Immigrant - is at The Cube Microplex, in Bristol.

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Immigration is a topic you cannot go a day without reading about, but, Inua Ellams' show - An Evening With An Immigrant - personalises a topic which has become blinded by statistics and faceless people.

Inua was born in Nigeria, to a Muslim father and a Christian mother in what is now considered by many to be Boko Haram territory.

When his father began to question his religion, their local community turned on them. At one point his father was chased by a car full of men shooting AK47s at him, the family’s security guard was killed and, to this day, his uncle is still missing. Inua and his family fled Nigeria when he was just 12 years old, and moved to London.

Now, Inua is an award-winning poet who has performed solo shows at the National Theatre, been invited to Buckingham Palace for tea with the Queen and fought for years for the right to live in this country.

The show is full of hilarious anecdotes from Inua’s childhood – including playing Barbie dolls with his three sisters, tales of his time in a Nigerian boarding and reciting poetry in a London playground as Eminem played in the background.

Between the anecdotes Inua reads poetry, his voice softens and you can tell the words touch his core – they weave together the poignant story of his family’s immigration battle and his constant feeling of not belonging.

I do not know what I was expecting from this show, but I was not expecting it to be so emotional.

After living in London for a year, their family’s immigration lawyers lost their passports, birth certificates and everything which gave them an identity – the same lawyers were later closed down for selling people false identities.

The family were once more uprooted, and spent time in Dublin where they experienced horrific levels of racism. Inua’s sisters received rape threats and the family returned to London.

Inua’s stories made me laugh out loud, but also left the theatre in an eerie silence as he spoke about his experiences with depression and how recent political events such as Brexit could affect his asylum status in the UK.

Inua and his family were finally granted permission to live and work in the UK under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) – the right to a family life.

Prime Minister Theresa May has recently stated her intentions to seek exemptions from the ECHR, something which could flow Inua’s family into a state of flux once more.

Towards the end of the show Inua says ‘I am not a politician, I am a poet – my power is as little as a flower’ – but this show is incredibly powerful. It left me feeling hopeful, fearful and incredibly touched all at the same time.

An Evening With An Immigrant is at The Cube Microplex, in Bristol, tonight (Thursday) at 8pm. Tickets, priced £10, are available via www.tobaccofactorytheatres.co.uk

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