Dear Home Office: Still Pending

Much has changed for the young men of Dear Home Office since last year. With Hollywood beckoning (sort of) and a feature film around the corner, one might think that fame is imminent. In contrast to last years’ offering which focused on the fictional experience of a refugee child, Dear Home Office: Still Pending charts the everyday experiences of 10 young refugee men in the UK. It considers the harsh realities of their lives, trapped in an infuriating limbo: safe and housed in the UK but with uncertain futures, no employment opportunities and many people trying to take advantage of them.

From the ridiculously detailed level of information the Home Office requires to show a refugee fled real danger, to misconceptions and implications of idleness they receive from society, Dear Home Office does an admirable job of telling a story so rarely told from the refugees’ side. The captivating performances by the ensemble cast are a joy to watch. The actors (who had no experience prior to 2016) all excel at immersing the audience in their world. Many of them play multiple characters with superb realism and great comic timing.

Overall, Phosphoros Theatre have created a spectacularly riveting play. Nothing makes this clearer than the exclaims from the audience at climactic moments. Some of the scenes shown are based on reality, others are completely fictional. Some are very funny, others tense, others still are downright harrowing. Yet what is most remarkable is the definite optimism of the story. No matter how many times life knocks these characters to the ground, they get back on their feet and keep going.

As the title suggests, the final outcome for many of these actors is still pending. We must hope that they have more certainty by next August, so this tale can have a truly happy ending.

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Jonathan Barnett

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