A young girl has just arrived at a new school. She’s nervous and excited in equal measure. The teacher enters the classroom and starts writing on the board. She speaks in Slovenian. But the young girl doesn’t understand; she’s just arrived in the country. Before, everything was normal. But then her dad was called up. Her mum tried to keep them safe but when fighting reached their city, they left their home, and fled the country.

Somewhere Else is an exquisitely realised depiction of the impact of war on the people caught up in it, told through the eyes of a child. As far as she’s concerned, one side is fighting against another and she has no idea why. But she does know that they’ve taken her dad, that her mother is stockpiling tins of food, and that she’s no longer allowed to go to school. And then the raids start.

The story is told by performer Asja Kahrimanović Babnik, largely in English and brought to life with a breathtaking mix of classic puppetry, visual effects, and live animation. One the surface, the set looks super simple – a desk and an outsized chair – but the versatility of this desk and the accompanying intricate projections have the audience gasping in genuine wonder. Through Babnik’s illustrations, we see the war gradually encroach on our protagonist’s life. Her cheeky, charming dog uncovers a soldier’s boot one day when they’re out for a walk, while a squadron of planes drone overhead. Soon, her normality unravels.

Somewhere Else is based on a book, the personal experiences of Babnik and director Tin Grabnar, and work with local children to understand their perceptions of war. While aimed a children ages eight and over, don’t let that fool you into thinking that adults won’t be as captivated as the primary school children who will be completely rapt throughout.

Created six years ago by Lubljana Puppet Theatre, this is the production’s first performance in English. Six years on, it’s no less timely. As of mid-2022, the UN estimates that at least 103 million people had been forcibly displaced. In a brief Q&A following the performance, Babnik observes that the show is likely to continue to be relevant “for as long as people keep being people”.

Somewhere Else is first and foremost a story of one family and their collar-hating dog, yet the starkly simple child’s perspective serves to highlight the devastating and destructive futility of war.