Hannah and Hanna – Edinburgh Festival Fringe

2015HANNAHA_AAXHannah and Hanna continues at Assembly George Square until 30 August.

Star rating: three stars ★ ★ ★

This production has been revived in response to the rise of UKIP and its attitude towards migrants and asylum seekers, in particular. Set in Margate, the views of Hannah, who was born and bred in Margate, and views of Hanna, newly arrived from Kosovo, are extremely different. Cassandra Hercules and Serin Ibrahim are instantly engaging as the two girls.

Hannah lives on the 11th floor with her Nan. Her Nan has become increasingly withdrawn and seldom leaves the flat. In her bedroom, Hannah practices her passion – karaoke. We see her performing – or more accurately, murdering – Kylie’s ‘I Could Be So Lucky’, but her cheeky smiles and outrageous moves win the audience over 100%. In a sudden switch of pace, Hannah’s hateful attitude to the Kosovans spews forth from her in a vile stream of insults – all the more shocking as she has just made us all love her.

Hanna’s journey from Kosovo has been long, hard and distressingly uncomfortable. When she arrived in Dover, she got out of the truck and kissed the ground: “Free at last.” Margate is a place of wonder for her, her brother and mother – they’d never seen the sea before and now they can see it every day from their window in the seafront hotel being used to house asylum seekers. Hanna speaks beautiful English and is also a big fan of pop music.

Ultimately, it’s their love of similar music that brings Hannah and Hanna together and makes them friends – a friendship that crosses borders. And an opportunity for super performances of pop songs with perfect teenager choreography.

It’s a shame that John Retallack hasn’t offered any update or extension to this show which was originally staged around the millennium. There seems acres of potential here, especially given recent public reaction to migrants in Calais and Greece. Nonetheless, this is a beautifully told and brilliantly performed piece.

Fiona Orr

CultureClash and Greenwich Theatre

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