Printable CopyBOY OVERBOARD
Ink Pot Arts Inc
The Living Arts Centre
Until 10 Mar 2018

Review by Kylie Pedler

Written by the current Children’s Laureate, Morris Gleitzman and adapted for stage by Patricia Cornelius, “Boy Overboard” is a human story: emotionally moving, political and thought provoking, even funny at times as the young protagonists deal with the confusion of war, misunderstanding and the need to just be teenagers.

Afghani Brother and Sister, Jamal (Emmirrordh Galbraith-Sellar) and Bibi (Georgina Kelman) have a dream to lead Afghanistan to soccer glory in the World Cup and convince the world to stop bombing their country. But in a world where girls have to attend a secret school travelling in the boot of a car, landmines are in the middle of the soccer pitch, the Taliban are on every corner and homes are blown up this is no trouble-free dream. When their mother Fatima’s (Isla Francis) secret school is discovered the family must flee; facing separation, pirates, storms and a sinking ship on their journey to seek asylum in Australia.

The play is a summary of the events explained in greater detail in the book, so it can be difficult to follow at times as the in-depth thinking and purpose behind the events is lost. Simply set with a few white cloths, suitcases and wooden crates, the actors adapted the stage for each scene. Further refinement and increased speed in these transitions would have been beneficial to the flow of the play (especially if the company intends to take the play into school settings).

While the performances of some of the young actors were lacking in character depth and emotional conviction, the content (the struggle and dangers faced by asylum seekers in the hope of finding a safe haven) and the underlying message “Never give up, even when things are looking hopeless” were the most important part of the production and these came through strongly.

Boy Overboard is adapted from real events, highlighted at this performance by an introduction shared by Muzafar Ali of his family’s own experiences as refugees (which parallel many of the events in the play) and the project he is involved in, “The Staging Post” which documented the life of two Afghan Hazara refugees who were affected by Australia’s “Stop the Boats” campaigns. This was an eye-opening and inspiring addition to the evening’s performance.

This was a one performance season, but it is available for school performances through inkpot.com.au.

Stars: 3 (out of 5)