Camden Fringe (venue)
17 August 2023 (released)
19 August 2023
Moses Hao’s and Aman Anam ‘Homeless’, which premiered at the Camden Fringe on Thursday the 17th of August, is a disjointed portrayal of someone living on the very edge. Despite stellar performances and good intentions, the challenging themes of the play get lost in its execution, which is as uncomfortable as it is confusing.
We are transported for the hour-long performance onto the curb of a busy street where immigrant Dexi (Aman Anam) has set up his humble abode. His only companion is his scatty hound (Vkin Vats), who repeatedly steals his master's bed of crates, fends off strangers and bizarrely flips the bird every once in a while. The only dialogue in the piece comes from Dexi in the form of an incoherent monologue. Whether he’s telling his dog that ‘we are all just animals’ or shouting ‘they are stealing the skies’ up at the high rises that surround him, the observations are too obvious to be thought provoking.
The storyline is as hard to follow as our protagonist's ramblings. Vkin Vats appears in different guises throughout the show, first a Hawaiian shirt and later a suit. Whilst he keeps his non verbal and animalistic demeanor, the audience is left wondering if he is still a dog, a new character or just a figment of Dexi’s imagination. The main story arc see’s Dexi desperately trying to deliver a birthday surprise to our mystery star, after finding his birthday on a discarded credit card. This is the strongest portrayal of the kindness that comes with extreme hardship in the show, but it sadly gets lost in the obscurity of the scene.
Despite the downfalls of the plot and the dialogue, Aman Anan and Vkin Vats capture the madness and despair that come with homelessness with almost too much accuracy. As the pair share scraps of food from a bin, sheepishly ask passers by for money and shudder in the cold, it’s easy to imagine you are right there with them. Whilst their acting was extremely provocative, the script lacked solace, leaving the audience to watch the pair with feelings of hopelessness. More vignettes of Dexi’s good character would allow Aman’s natural charm, which we see briefly in scenes of food sharing and gratefulness to strangers, to shine more brightly.
You have to applaud Aman and Hao for bringing such a pertinent issue to the stage. Exploring the mental turmoil that comes with homelessness is no easy feat. However I fear the lack of optimism and coherence throughout will provoke little more in the audience than fatalism and confusion.