Review Round Up: How Not to Drown, Theatre Royal Stratford East

We take a close look at what is being said about Nicola McCartney & Dritan Kastrati’s play presented by theatre company ThickSkin .  

Photograph: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

The Guardian: *** “While his ocean journey carries the danger, the later scenes dramatising Kastrati’s life in Ilford, east London, shine an important light on the childhood asylum experience, with Kastrati feeling unloved and unhugged. He is unable to speak English, racially abused, undefended by teachers. Yet when he visits his parents years later, he realises he has become adrift from his childhood home too. The underlying question in this heartfelt and moving drama is: where is home for a child like Kastrati?”

Everything Theatre: **** “In the end How Not to Drown succeeds in no small part due to the presence and involvement of Kastrati himself. Interactions with bullies in school and uncaring social workers could come off as contrived, but his being on stage, showing and telling his story as it happened, brings a level of authenticity to everything present. There was a definite emotional reaction from both him and the audience, as he took a well-deserved bow.”

The Reviews Hub: *** 1/2 “No doubt the episodic nature of the play and the bathetic family reunion in Kosovo reflect the reality of Kastrati’s childhood, but these ideas could be retained in a script that packs more of an emotional punch and to give the play the climax its gripping source material desperately deserves.”

London Theatre 1: **** “If the staging makes it look as though the actors could fall off a sharply angled wooden structure at any point, it’s indicative of the lack of stability in Dritan’s life. A moving story in more ways than one, this bittersweet yet hopeful play is thought-provoking without being sentimental.”

The Stage: *** “Powerful story of isolation through the eyes of a young asylum seeker, starring and written by Dritan Kastrati.”

The Upcoming: *** “The production values are excellent. In one sense, it feels stripped back: there aren’t masses of complicated props or intricate costumes. But the detail of the craft on display is obvious. The stage is simple yet dramatic. The movement is down-to-earth yet thrilling. The lighting is perfectly atmospheric. ThickSkin, the theatre company behind How Not to Drown, really deserves a lot of credit for bringing together such a complete creative team with such a strong unified vision. Overall, How Not to Drown is a thrilling story well told.”

How Not to Drown continues to play at the Theatre Royal Stratford East until the 11th February.

%d bloggers like this: