Theatre review: Octopus

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Three women sit in a waiting room, poised to be called for interview.

All three are of mixed race – though one of them doesn’t actually know it yet. Scheherazade is a Jewish/Iranian artist (although she prefers Persian – less prejudicial assumptions) and “not that foreign” with her ripped Union Jack tights and punk tapestries. Sara is an uptight accountant from Uxbridge who insists that her ethnicity is British. Sarah is a well-meaning metropolitan ignoramus with verbal ­diarrhoea, from whom most of the laughs derive.

All have been summoned to this “pre-criminal space” for non-indigenous nationals, to catch them before, presumably, they take our jobs, our women etc, etc. At a time when the debate on immigration has become hysterical, playwright Afsaneh Gray has chosen to poke fun at this thorny territory, sending up the absurdity of the bureaucratic lingo and the criteria for who has leave to remain.

Octopus is a riotous rallying cry for anyone who has ever been asked “where are you from anyway?” which ultimately descends into a bit of a dog’s dinner as if Gray is not sure how to handle the fallout and bring the play to a neat conclusion. But then there are no neat conclusions when considering the punk tapestry that makes up ­British society.

Until 28 August. Today 1:45pm.

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