His Teeth

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© Karis MacKenzie
His Teeth

The dreams of illegal immigrants quickly turn into nightmares when they discover that they are ripe for exploitation by criminals who are all too willing to employ them. Ben Musgrave’s alarming play is based on the experiences of Ralph Ojotu who came to this country from Nigeria.

Eric is a hustler who comes to the UK and gets caught up in drugs and prostitution. His miserable experiences and the fraught choices he has to make are not unfamiliar but the difference here is that they are enacted by members of the arts company, Only Connect, which exists to help prisoners, ex-offenders and young people at risk of crime.

Under the skilful direction of Maggie Norris, the passionate commitment of the performances is remarkable. Kareem Dauda wins sympathy as the newly arrived Eric, who is appalled when Junior ‘Mila’ Miller’s scary Derek demands to see his teeth as if he is being taken into slavery.

Eric’s already dangerous life becomes even more complicated when he falls for Derek’s junkie girlfriend (Eleanor Wyld). Cleverly, the action takes place within a claustrophobic gauze box on which Mic Pool’s film depicts the changes of location as well as incriminating CCTV footage.

Sitting on all four sides, the audience can easily see into the box, while the gauze possibly helps these impressive but untrained actors to tell their grim story without being overly aware of those watching outside.

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