Deaf-led company Deafinitely Theatre's devised play 'Tanika's Journey' takes an elliptical swoop through a problem that continues to divide Sri Lanka despite the end of its civil war – the oppression of the Tamil people. It focuses on a deaf young woman who tries to flee to London, but discovers too late that her plane terminates in Moscow.
Paula Garfield's production strands the audience in a snowscape – so we become onlookers as Tanika is led by people traffickers towards the mountains she must climb on her long journey to get to Britain. Simon Daw's stunning design means those sitting on the front row have their feet in the snow, while a crepuscular light shining through stark trees positioned artfully throughout the auditorium manages to evoke an infinite distance in this small space.
On the night before press night it was difficult not to be beguiled by the charm of a production that – partially mimed, and partially spoken – switched between the mountain journey and the vibrant colours of Tanika's life back in Sri Lanka. But despite a strong central performance from Nadia Nadarajah, the play is just too elliptical to evoke the horrors that circumscribe Tanika's fate. It needs to take us deeper into the terrors that are a daily reality for far too many people.
There are the beginnings of something here, but I – for one – would have been happier to go on a longer journey.