Bernie Gravett is proud to be associated with the new production by Eugene O'Hare at the Park Theatre (Finsbury Park) titled "The Weathermen". Bernie had the pleasure to brief the cast during the rehearsal phase on the scale and atrocity that is child trafficking in the UK and around the world.
The origins of the play go back to 2010 when Eugene read the new coverage of the Metropolitan Police operation Golf that was the largest human trafficking investigation in Europe. The investigation was the first Joint Investigation Team under EU law to tackle transnational human trafficking. The media coverage sparked Eugene’s interest that developed into a desire to write a play based not only on the horrors of child trafficking, but a play where the victim a 13 year old girl came from Tandarei in South East Romania and the centre of the Met’s investigation.
The new play tackles the subject matter of the trafficking of Mara, a 13 year old girl with great sensitivity. The fact that she is trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation is there but is never explicit.
The story line is that the character of Dollar coerces two of his tenants to ‘look after’ a package for a few weeks. In return he will waive their rent and pay them for ‘their troubles’. His 2 temmants who share a one bedroom flat are both damaged and vulnerable men, down on their luck and desperate to keep a roof over their heads. Both are vulnerable in their own ways and open to exploitation by the scheming Dollar.
O’Hare has cleverly crafted the character of Dollar as a master of manipulation. Many of the trafficking deceptions and lies are written into his dialogue. He is doing the girl a favour, saving her from poverty, begging and crime. He uses these tales to coerce the 2 men both down on their luck, into taking on the role of babysitters for Mara, the ‘vulnerable young orphan’ recused from Romania. He repeats that he is improving her life and her chances of survival. However, even in the first act, the signs that Dollar is not the kind saviour that he portrays and that there are darker designs at work.
I have said enough. I encourage everyone to try to see the play. It is challenging and powerful. Listinging to the audience comments after last nights production, it is raising awareness of child trafficking to many who have never encountered it or been concerned by it. All of the performances are powerful, none more so that the silent Mara (Niamh James in her first professional debut) who radiates vulnerability throughout her time on stage.
Please go and see the play. It is raising awareness of human trafficking through a new medium and reaching many that this dark world would otherwise pass by.
Park Theatre is tucked away on Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP. Just a short walk from Finsbury Park Station (Tube and mainline).