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Review: Flight (Bridge Theatre)

The intimate theatre experience is co-produced with the Barbican

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
© Beth Chalmers

Two brothers, Aryan and Kabir, set off from Afghanistan on a perilous mission to reach London. It's an all-too familiar story, but told with startling beauty in this innovative – and completely Covid safe – production from Vox Motus.

We sit in individual booths watching a procession of model boxes, wearing headphones that utilise binaural sound (the same showcased in Complicité's The Encounter). It's a deft technique that puts us right in the heart of the action, from the brothers' stormy Mediterranean crossing to their exploitative labour on a fruit farm and final fateful crossing of the Channel in a refrigerated meat lorry.

First seen at the EIF in 2017, it was created by Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison (who oversaw the illusions in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) based on Caroline Brothers' novel Hinterland. Seeing it three years on, it seems a sobering reminder of the refugee experience that has been largely squeezed out of the news headlines of late.

The brothers' journey becomes emblematic not just of global inequalities but of lost innocence. "Why didn't you tell me people could be like this?" asks Kabir, the younger sibling (voiced by Nalini Chetty), after suffering horrendous sexual abuse. He dreams of flying, manifested in intricate silhouettes.

The scope of the modelling is deeply impressive, from the detail of a newspaper to the breadth of a cityscape. It's a sushi carousel of remarkable intricacy, while Mark Melville's soundscape provides a hypnotic accompaniment. There is an undoubted and quietly heartbreaking contrast in the delicacy of the art and the brutality of the narrative.

It is a crying shame that Flight, which deserves a wide audience, will have to be packed up along with so many others following the raising of London's tier level. Credit is due the team and the Bridge, and co-producers the Barbican, for the stringent safety measures they put in place. Although it is on pause for now, let's hope it returns in the not-too-distant future.