The Bogus Woman review at Theatre by the Lake Keswick

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Kay Adshead’s play purports to be a composite of genuine experiences of those seeking asylum in this country. If this is fact, it is an appalling critique of our attitude to human rights.

The ‘bogus woman’ of the title is a writer from an un-named African country, the victim of multiple rapes who sees her family killed because she published an article critical of the regime. She flees to England hoping to be accepted as a tourist and when her deception is discovered, is treated as an unwanted animal, imprisoned and denied any comfort.

Her story is told by one actor, Krissi Bohn, in a mesmerising, powerful and heart-wrenching performance as she takes us through the experiences of this wretched woman. She brings to life some 48 characters, some kind, many cruel, imbuing each with vocal and physical characteristics that become instantly recognisable each time.

This is an outstanding performance given on a bare traverse stage in the theatre’s redesigned Studio space with an audience only a few feet away. Director Zoe Waterman finds what light and shade she can in Kay Adshead’s politically one-sided work and keeps up a relentless pace with imaginative use of sound and light.

This is political theatre at its most campaigning – it is an absorbing work designed to expose inhumane practices and instigate change. Whether or not we feel overwhelmed by 80 minutes of sustained savagery there is no denying the emotional impact of Bohn’s superb, multi-layered performance.

Production Information

Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, May 23-November 5

Kay Adshead
Zoe Waterman
Theatre by the Lake Productions
Krissi Bohn
Running time
1hr 20mins