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From Sudanese refugee to Newcastle bouncer: ‘Living in Limbo’

Written by Arts

Living in Limbo is the story of a modern Odyssey; a story of desperation, cruelty, separation and laughter. Newcastle’s Alphabetti Theatre showcases the story of a gruelling physical journey only underlined by an even more profound spiritual one.

Abu-Zayd Degale was a nationally recognised comedian in formerly unified Sudan, having toured the country whilst widely lampooning the farcical state of the government and its petty authorities. Such recognition, however, quickly attracted attention from the wrong people, and after being viciously interrogated by the henchmen of the government, in this case the branch leader of a Student’s Union, Degale decided that for the safety of his family he would have to move to the UK. And it is here, now, that Degale works as a night-club bouncer, tossing out soaked students into the street, kebabs in hand, and every once in a while being on the receiving end of a casual racial assault.

“It’s a story of immigration, class, ‘fake news’, and the purpose of life when common culture, instead of being a source of affirmation and cohesion, is instead the most alienating factor in ones life.”

Despite what you may think, presumably that this situation is incredibly dire and how appalling that this kind of thing still happens (which is a reasonable response), Degale’s approach to his reality is through the best medium he knows: laughter. Living in Limbo is a wonderful mixture of monologue, poetry, music, and film, and at the core of this is his story: the story of a comedian who will not give up his right to bring laughter, because if he does, then those who spat in his face, abducted his friends in the night and forced him from his country, would win.

Living in limbo is thus indeed a modern Odyssey, and Degale is both hero and storyteller. And to allow this story to be passed on like the others before it, I would highly recommend you see it.

Last modified: 27th October 2019

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