“Silkworm”, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2022

Maggie Rose in Edinburgh
14 August 2022

Silkworm, playing at Assembly’s Roxy venue, was a recipient of the Assembly’s ART award for 2022. Set in the kitchen of a tower block flat in Glasgow, two Nigerian women are seeking asylum from the UK Home Office.

As the play opens they are preparing for an interview that will decide whether they can stay in the country or not. They are a gay couple and hope their status will help them gain permission given the homophobic society they have left behind in Nigeria.

The two play various roles, sometimes parodying British customs. They amusingly change accents, argue about the right way of making and drinking tea or practice talking about the British weather. However, the atmosphere soon grows dark as the interlocutor (via a voiceover) insists they talk about their trauma, and probes into intimate details concerning their relationship.

A tender, at times fraught, relationship between the two women emerges by virtue of the excellent interpretation of actors Ewa Dina and Antonia Layiwola. Their relationship could have been developed further, as could the reasons for the outcome of their application (which I won’t mention so as not to give away the ending).

That said, Silkworm, written by Vlad Butucea and directed by Mojisola Elufowoju, is worth a visit given its focus on the specific difficulties the LGBT community faces when asking for asylum.