Last year, the UN reported 244 million migrants globally; approximately 65.3 million of these displaced from their homes by conflict or persecution. It’s no secret that as humans, we move around.
Migration forms the basis for Martin Green’s multimedia show Flit, which came to Brighton’s Dome on Sun 30 Oct. While Flit may arrive in Brighton at a poignant time – released in the same week the Calais ‘Jungle’ was torn apart – and cover perhaps the most topical of themes in current times, the show is not designed to preach to the masses. Instead, the show spends 90 minutes examining the phenomenon of migration through humanity itself, exploring stories all the way from World War II to today.
As Aidan Moffat foreshadows, “This is a show about journeys.” Set upon a backdrop of brown parcel paper (which has itself associations of being sent around the world), Flit proceeds to delve into the interviews Green spent two years compiling. Starting with his grandparents, who came to the UK on the Kindertransport before WWII, Green takes viewers on a voyage through time. Expect themes of chasing dreams, belonging, the meaning of ‘home’ channelled through Moffat’s contrasting narrative, stop-motion paper animation by BAFTA-winning whiterobot and song – each awash with a wealth of symbolism.
A collaboration between members of Lau, Mogwai, Portishead and The Unthanks, Flit initially appears a sort of supergroup gig, however it emerges on stage as so much more. As Becky Unthank’s breathy voice amalgamates with Adam Holmes’ rich baritone to express honest accounts of sadness and solitude (Adrian Utley, Dominic Aitchison and Green accompanying with instrumentation), a visual story unfolds above them – our paper protagonist embarking on a expedition there’s a strong chance he will not survive. While Flit may not have been created to address the issues surrounding modern migration, it certainly succeeds on reopening the discourse, bringing to home the realities faced by those merely seeking a better life.
At times, despite the approachability of Moffat’s narrative, the show fails to make much sense in the form of a story, however Flit is not meant to be a show that follows a linear structure. It’s more an expression of feelings and themes through sound clips and its symbolism of lighthouses, oceans, suitcases, trains and animal migration (which Moffat points out, it’s odd we seem to have a lot less trouble as humans processing).
A thought-provoking, immersive performance from start to finish, Flit successfully portrays the starkest of truths about migration. Green’s connecting of today’s migrants to his grandparents’ experience is exceptionally provocative in bringing to light that so many of us come from migrants, or are, in a way, migrants ourselves. Highly recommended.