Abidemi and Omolade are asylum seekers, trapped in a not very salubrious flat somewhere in Scotland. They’re hoping to be granted settled status. But first, they need to prove their commitment to their adoptive nation – and to their same-sex relationship – in a Home Office interview.
Glasgow-based playwright Vlad Butucea’s new script, Silkworm, is a touching, sometimes funny, and always astute. It muses on the reality of a life lived in a state of suspended animation, victim of the absurdities of the official asylum-seeking process. At the same time, it’s a love story. Though these two young women couldn’t live freely together in their homeland, Nigeria, as they relax into life on a teetering top floor of a cramped apartment block, we see their relationship gain confidence, grow and deepen.
Ewa Dina is an infectiously bouncy, sulky, endearing Abidemi, initially stubbornly resistant to playing the game but eventually chivvying Omolade into action. Antonia Layiwola has a majestic stillness, containing her frustration at their plight, at her fear of coming out to her intolerant family along with a yearning for freedom.
This new production, supported by an Assembly Festival ART Award, is beautifully directed by Mojisola Elufowoju who happens to have been a lawyer in the UK asylum process for over ten years before becoming a theatre artist. Inventive use of the classic compact Fringe space sees the story lope from the flat to the local club to the Home Office. A brilliantly evocative soundtrack from Patricia Panther neatly matches the characters’ mood as the time ticks past them, layering on the claustrophobia and providing a tantalising glimpse of the glory of the world waiting outside.