The Bogus Woman is not a play to be seen for pleasure, but it is a play that needs to be watched. Intense, challenging and at times uncomfortable, it serves as an extremely relevant reminder that refugees and asylum seekers are people, and so should be treated as such.
The play follows a nameless African poet and journalist as she tries to escape the atrocities of her home country and seek asylum in Great Britain. Krissi Bohn (the only cast member in The Bogus Woman) enacts over forty characters as she portrays different encounters with them, including numerous interrogations where Bohn plays both interviewer and interviewee, completely switching between each character as she goes.
It is through these interrogations that we learn the woman’s story and discover what caused her to flee from her home with forged papers and there is a sense of timelessness as the woman is passed from detention centre to detention centre, being held back by delay after delay. Past and present meld together as the woman is forced to relive the atrocities from which she has fled, while experiencing abuse at the hands of the British guards which she can’t speak out against: anyone who did was deported back to the country from which they fled.
The Bogus Woman is a grim play but Adshead strikes the balance between darkness and light, giving the audience just enough to eventually share the woman’s hope and false belief that things will improve. That is until harsh reality eventually catches up and any happy ending is cruelly snatched away.
The Bogus Woman is not a play to be enjoyed, but it is a play that must be seen. Its message is too great and unfortunately relevant to be missed; despite being difficult to watch it is an incredible piece of theatre that raises many important questions about the power that we have as a country over those who rely on our integrity and compassion.
By Oisin Power