My seat was in Iraq. It sounded like as good a place as any for me to colonise my Made in the US of A posterior for the evening’s performance. I cannot believe this act of irony was the product of chance alone. Ticket in one hand, a paper cup of steamy mulled wine in the other, I pondered the meaning of this unusual seating categorisation. I was assured this was a fine seat. I revelled in the creative way of dividing seats into refugee contributing countries. How immersive of the show runners! I didn’t have a clue. The long hall took me not only to the Iraq seating section, but beyond the simple theatrical construct that was the Young Vic Theatre. Step by step, layers of ignorance thawed as I moved from the stage which was the West to what appeared to be the backstage area. The seat appeared to be the left-over scrap from the set designers. I was in Calais. This was the Jungle.

The Jungle by Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, Directed by Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin, a co-production of Young Vic, the National Theatre and Good Chance Theatre, Young Vic, London, 7 December 2017 to 9 January 2018.

I feared I had taken a wrong turn, for this was not stadium style seating. In fact, I wasn’t sure where the stage was, perhaps it was the fourth wall of this square room, but it was a bit small for an elaborate production. Rows of tables and pillow cushions for seats. Had I stumbled into the green room? No, this all was to be the stage the players would perform upon. My mind moved at a million miles a minute trying to decipher what must have been a puzzle. My seat was on a nice raised bench, looking in through a window, into this shanty world. Dirt made the floor. Graffiti and trash the interior décor. There I was, an American in a sports coat, sipping mulled wine, looking in on the Jungle, a refugee camp. My seat of course, was on the far end, so I, as us Americans are all too familiar in doing, had to inconvenience the rest of Iraq to find my proper seat.

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