Founded in 2015, Phosphorus Theatre has made a name for itself with a set of autobiographical shows created and performed by child refugees. 2016’s Dear Home Office and it’s 2017 sequel were clunky but big-hearted explorations of life as an asylum seeker.
Pizza Shop Heroes is probably the company’s best show so far. It’s by its nature rough and ready, but there’s a dynamism and an ambition to it that hasn’t been there before. It’s still quite far from an easy watch though, both theatrically and thematically.
Tewodros Aregawe, Goitom Fesshaye, Emirjon Hoxhaj and Syed Haleem Najibi – hailing from Afghanistan to Eritrea – are immigrants working in a takeaway pizza place. In between answering calls, they sketch out their own histories and stories in short scenes and sketches – familiar but frightening tales of painful goodbyes, terrifying journeys and soulless home office interrogations.
All four are engaged, increasingly intelligent performers, knitted together by writer-director Dawn Harrison into an energetic, knockabout ensemble. Kate Duffy, the company’s artistic director, joins them on stage as a helping hand and occasional translator.
It’s a genuine joy to see this company develop, in both style and stature. Its work is far from fluid, but it’s essential nonetheless.