Going Through is the UK premiere of Estelle Savasta’s critically acclaimed French play Traversée. With a cast of two, it tells the story of Nour, (Charmaine Wombwell) who is raised by her adoptive mother Youmna (Nadia Nadarajah). Brought up in a tiny house, Youmna teaches Nour a special language and they share everything together- until one day Nour has to make a journey on her own.
Set in an un-named country, the staging is simple in design by Rajha Shakiry. In the background there are white mountains which hint at a more Eastern location, and the set consists of moving walls in which text is projected on. When the men come to take Nour away, Youmna cuts off her hair. It’s not safe to travel in this country as a girl. A vivid description of Nour’s dangerous journey against the simple backdrop, allows the audience to learn the dangers of child migration, as she travels by bus, through gun shots and under lorry- to cross borders to a safer place West.
Nour (Wombwell), has a beautiful childlike innocence, as she tells us all about her tiny little house, and lists everything that’s important to her. Youmna (Nadarajah), is incredibly caring and has a strong presence on stage as the guardian figure. Wombwell uses spoken word to tell the story, Nadarajah signs, the relationship between the two is a powerful one- as they also use a shared motif of choreography to communicate with each other.
The play is split into 3 sections, and part 3, sees Nour (Wombwell) step out of the direct action, and projections of images are displayed on stage, and she narrates, reading with her back to the audience. We see Wombwell as the actor even finding it hard to retell the struggles Nour faced. Although this is a moving moment, the presence of Youmna is missed in the last part of the play. However, this highlights the reality of migrant children who unfortunately have to leave their parents behind in order to have a chance of living in a safer environment.
Omar Elerian, brings this text to life and makes it accessible to all through use of spoken word, BSL and projected captioning on the set. With beautiful imagery in the text, and childhood language like “The man with the frank smile”, we do see that “It’s not always children’s stories that happen to children”. This is a moving story of childhood and sacrifice.