Fast food is a given in London. You swipe and ping and pong and hey presto food arrives in a jiffy. Almost as if by magic a faceless force delivers meals to your door. And in a revelation akin to the child sweatshop labour used by many high street brands, Pizza Shop Heroes reveals the truth behind the menus; the stories of the taken-for-granted invisible workforce. You will never look at a foreign face the same way again.

Pizza Shop Heroes is based on the experiences of the actors who travelled as unaccompanied asylum seeking children to the UK. Unusually, it is also acted out by these very same people. It is their stories we hear as they try and navigate the asylum process. We start at the start – the lost days of childhood through the “wind, waves and dark, dark water”, via the gruesome guards “who don’t know how to be human” to the New Land and life as a new arrival. This is a heavy topic, there are harsh, tough, tough times, but this play does not dwell. It does not shove an emotional ramrod down your throat. Cleverly and with balanced humour, Phosphoros Theatre, present the journey of the actors’ recent history.

The stories are scary. They involve evil people, heartbroken mothers, families torn apart. Stories that in another time would sound like the adventures of a fairy-tale hero. Trickery and deception run rife, fear is a constant. Hope is the only hope. And yet even with this backdrop of despair, and knowing the experiences are real, this play doesn’t dwell. It doesn’t turn on the emotional screws and try and force us to care. It shines a light.

Pizza Shop Heroes is an illuminating and innovative presentation of the asylum seekers’ journey. It will change your perception. It will make you understand more. It is a play that should be seen by all.

Reviewer: Samantha Collett

Reviewed: 9th November 2018

North West End Rating: ★★★★★