Once Upon a Time… In A Land Far Far Away… like thousands of little girls worldwide, Alice was swept off her feet by the magic of Disney. As a child, growing up in Australia, Alice thought there was ‘the one’ Prince Charming for her – she would one day meet him, and they would get married. After all, that’s what happened to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel and all the rest.
But today Alice is at a Tube station in London, five minutes away from taking the Piccadilly line to Heathrow to get on a plane back to Australia. You see, her visa has expired. She has Primark flats for glass slippers, an Oyster card instead of a pumpkin coach… and Prince Charming, well, he won’t twerk.
It all leads to an hour of finely-scripted performance from Michelle Sewell of HACK Theatre. Sewell is a great actress, and tells us of Alice’s past two years in the UK and how she fell in love here; the only way she can stay on in the country is if her Prince marries her, but he isn’t there yet. Sewell speaks from personal experience, and like every other non-EU immigrant in the room, I laughed out loud in that hollow sardonic laugh we reserve for the UK Border Office.
The production cleverly dices up the narrative into chunks, interspersing it with what is clearly a recording of Alice talking to her therapist. As a result, the narrative swaps between two subplots – the issues with love, and the issues with visas – which does mean that the show tries to tackle two very big issues in a small space of time. The visa issue appeals to a smaller group of people, while love is more universal, so I understand the choice the production has made. But at times, it does feel like too much is going on in the play – an hour is not nearly enough time to grapple with all of it.
This show has ended its run, but if HACK Theatre are back again, do make it a point to see them. I was glad to have made it along, even on their last day.