The Immigration Lottery

Edinburgh Festival Fringe review (theatre): The Immigration Lottery at The Space @ Surgeon’s Hall (venue 53). Review by Billy Barrett

Thought-provoking but perplexing, many of the jokes in this comedy about a Hong Kong woman applying for foreign citizenship are lost in translation, and there’s a monologue in Cantonese that should have surtitles. But Cathy SK Lam and Angel SY Chan make a compellingly absurd double act, and thanks to committed performances and off-the-wall humour, this satire of bureaucracy and national identity packs a political punch.

Lam’s rambling pleas and frantic physicality palpably capture the helplessness of a woman trapped in a broken system, and Chan is suitably stubborn and sinister as the immigration officer. Their banter can be difficult to get a handle on, but the jokes are wryly insightful when they land properly.

The premise of the “immigration lottery” isn’t properly explained though, and the jumbled structure – as well as the assumption of familiarity with the situation in Hong Kong – can be a little disorienting. Afterwards, Lam, who also wrote the piece, explains its intentions and the region’s issues with censorship, freedom of speech and relations with mainland China – details which could have been more powerful had they been included in the show itself.

Until 9 August. Today 12:10pm, more info

Originally published in The Scotsman

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