CAN’T SEE FOR LOOKING
Written by Carolyn Lloyd Davies, with co-creator Franchezka Cunanan, Can’t See For Looking opened at The Old Fire Station on 28 September, and then transferred to The Cockpit, London on 18 October, Anti-Slavery Day.
When Rosa finds herself enslaved in London, she’s desperate to escape. But what’s her freedom worth, once she’s trapped inside the UK immigration system? Based on five in-depth interviews with modern slavery victims rescued from domestic servitude, this shocking, fast-moving play highlights the prevalence of hidden slavery in Britain today and how many of us turn away, because of what it might cost us to confront a neighbour, friend or employer.
Following their previous four star critically acclaimed productions, director David Trevaskis reunites with Carolyn Lloyd Davies to stage her new play, produced by Carolyn Lloyd Davies and Stephanie Connell for Living the Drama.
Sofia Holme, The Daily Info
It’s a pacily directed, well-acted and hugely compelling look at a painful topic, culminating in a powerful ending. Highly recommended.
Sue Brockes-Smith, ASIOX
Congratulations on a fantastic play, so sensitively done, powerful enough that no-one could leave having not been impacted and finishing with a good outcome!
Daniel Nelson, Migrant Voice
This is theatre that’s political and personal, with great characters, with drama and humour. Outstanding.
Simon Israel, C4 News
Brilliant drama of hidden domestic slavery in the UK. Utterly engrossing.
Margarita San Luis
Brilliant drama of hidden domestic slavery in UK. Captures brutal oppression of young Filipina nanny trapped and treated as worth nothing. HO asylum interview is backdrop to horrors of unfolding story.
SIMON ISRAEL, CHANNEL 4 NEWS
Can’t See For Looking articulates one of the central reasons I will perpetually champion fringe theatres – they are often the spaces where the least heard voices, ones that frequently speak the most important human messages, get the chance to take the stage. Next time you’re strolling down Oxford Street or along a residential Marylebone road, I implore you to travel 20 minutes further to The Cockpit, and empathise with the hidden suffering that lies beneath London’s glitz.
GEORGIA GIBSON, STRAND
The performance is confident and engaging. The play, with a touch of the thriller, always holds our attention as it encourages more understanding and greater compassion for people whose difficulties in seeking asylum are too often made worse by the public debate around migration.
Not only are the victims of modern slavery traumatised by the horror and sometimes shame they have suffered living effectively as a prisoner in a foreign country, but if they escape, they are then forced to endure a cold bureaucratic system of checks that might result in deportation to greater danger in their home country.
KEITH MCKENNA, BRITISH THEARE GUIDE
… what’s commendable about the show is its depth and complexity without sacrificing narrative. It’s a pacily directed, well-acted and hugely compelling look at a painful topic, culminating in a powerful ending. Highly recommended. Hugely Compelling.
SOPHIA HOLME, DAILY INFO
Two other sharply drawn characters add to the piece’s power: Nura, the martinet mother of Rosa’s employer, who runs the household and whose pride in being guided by her religious faith does not embrace non-Muslim servants; and Hetty, the cut-glass British chairman of the Expats Social Club.
Nura can’t see herself for looking: Hetty can’t see beyond wealth and status. Nura is the obvious baddy, being directly responsible for Rosa’s appalling treatment. Hetty finally gets a tongue-lashing from the angry Angel – the only character who both looks and sees.
This is theatre that’s political and personal, with great characters, with drama and humour.
DANIEL NELSON, MIGRANT VOICE
It feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve watched a show that made me feel ‘angry’ about ‘the way things are’ and the absence of visible justice. However, this play is a reminder that theatre can have something to say about the here and now, and that just because it has a message, doesn’t mean it’s didactic or ‘preachy’. If anything, the power of Can’t See For Looking lies in the fact that it shows all sides of the argument of modern slavery, and if you want to apportion blame for how and why it thrives in the 21st century, governments the world over need to address their blind spot to where the money trail leads to.
That’s where the due diligence should lie.
MICHAEL DAVIS, BREAKING THE FOURTH WALL
I was so impressed and so upset and so horrified all at the same time. It was magnificent and so well done. How you wrung so much out of just 6 actors, no scenery and almost nothing else to help them I can’t comprehend – even some of your legendary humour. As always it was your words that did everything. Never a wrong word and each one right on for the particular emotional nuances of that occasion and that person. Congratulations another creative masterpiece.
It was so moving and powerful with scripted characters with such depth that allowed us to explore the challenges and contradictions and complexity – and made us look to our own values and attitudes.