Anyone who has ever lived in a country outside of their birth will be familiar with the ridiculous bureaucracy that surrounds most visa and immigration processes. Checkpoint, by Startled Cat Theatre, sheds light on it, through a darkly comic satire. The play opens with a checkpoint that is clearly at the docks, manned by Lieutenant Schulz (Ashley Shiers), who dreams of becoming Major and his sidekick, Ozick (Kieran Boon).
Enter Roman (Matt Grass), who is dragging along a trunk that is clearly very heavy. What’s in it is never alluded to, but it is not hard to guess based on very pointed clues and the nature of objects on Roman’s person. What follows is a hilarious show where Schulz and Ozick try to discern Roman’s identity, his ‘purpose of visit,’ and try to ascertain if they should let him into the town. For Roman the stakes are far too high to risk failure and he’s determined to prove that he has the right to enter.
Kieran Boon as Ozick is brilliant, playing the bumbling, trying-to-please, young and naive border guard. He is determined to hate the ‘tourists,’ as he means to say ‘terrorists’. It is evident that he is learning to form an opinion about the migrants from the actions of his boss. Schulz plays the perfect senior – bigoted and xenophobic. Ultimately, Roman manages to cajole and coerce his way in, by impersonating a ‘special secret’ police officer. But for how long? As the play reaches the finale, the inevitable happens.
The production does shy away from presenting a conclusion. The ending feels slightly abrupt, as a result. And the audience must grapple with the reality that is faced by the displaced millions in our world. Leaving it open ended isn’t a bad thing necessarily, and this is a fine piece of theatre from a very new production house. Judging by the finesse the topic is dealt with, this definitely comes as a surprise.