by Romy Foster
“The number of women and girls trafficked around the globe is only increasing. However, due to its underground nature, the exact number is unknown.” This powerful and haunting quote stands out on the back of the programme along with other statistics from anti modern-slavery charity, Unseen.
Writer Ella Dorman-Gajic’s haunting debut play Trade follows a young woman’s fight for survival within the European sex-trafficking industry. The script is written with passion and is filled with moments of humour and tenderness alongside the traumatic experiences of Jana (Tanya Cubric). Though the stakes aren’t always as high as the writing suggests, Tanya really finds her character in the second half of the story as Jana does the unthinkable to save herself and her family. It leaves the audience wondering what would they do and how far they would go to make a better situation for themselves – even if it is at the expense of others.
It is refreshing to see a cast and creative team composed mostly of people of European heritage. They tell his story featuring their home countries, and the use of both Serbian and English captions for native tongue theatregoers is really thoughtful. This should be the norm across the industry.
The direction (by Maddy Corner) is good, from the staging to the production’s overall vision. The set is mostly covered in cardboard and actors are onstage at all times using movement and quick changes to change environments throughout the piece. Together, these choices help to create the feeling of always being on the go, entrapment, and that nowhere is home. Nobody can escape, not even the supporting characters. Ojan Genc (Stefan/Nikola/Man 1&2), Eleanor Roberts (Katarina/Elena/Iona) and Tanya Cubric (Jana) work well together as they are patient and listen to each others words and bodies creating a very watchable ensemble.
Originally, Trade was supposed to premiere at Vault Festival but after the event’s cancellation, it has been transferred to Omnibus in Clapham as part of their Vault Festival transfer season.
Trade runs through 19 February.
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