Tuesday, 3 November 2015

INTERVIEW - Krissi Bohn, The Bogus Woman

SHE famously made her name as Lloyd Mullaney’s long lost daughter Jenn Kamara on the cobbles of Corrie but actress Krissi Bohn is now about to star in a one woman stage show at the Clapham Omnibus.
Written by Kay Adshead, The Bogus Woman is both a shocking and hard hitting story about one unnamed young woman’s struggle as a refugee.
It tells her story as she flees from a war torn African country where she was abused and gang raped and where her child, parents, husband and sister are murdered.
She arrives in Britain to seek asylum and a new life but there are plenty of difficulties and obstacles that lie in her path - she is detained, then interrogated, humiliated and racially abused.
Now more than 10 years after it was written it remains a powerful story of asylum in modern Britain. And with the migrant crisis debate still at the centre of British politics and in our newspapers and on the TV news almost daily, it is as relevant as ever.
“It’s an incredible piece,” says Krissi. “It is a fantastic story – beautifully written and is both heartbreakingly sad and very funny in the way it charts this woman’s fight for survival.
“I did a production of it seven years ago and it is still very topical and relevant – so it’s very exciting that I am getting a chance to play it again.”
In the space of the 80 minute production, Krissi transforms herself into soldiers, immigration officials, detention centre staff, fellow asylum seekers, do-gooders, lawyers and many others whom the young woman meets as her life spirals down into tragedy.
In total there are 51 different characters to portray, something she says is both terrifying and exhilarating.
“It’s definitely the most challenging piece of work I’ve ever done,” she says. “I’m completely on my own on stage and don’t really have any props or costume changes, so it’s all done vocally and physically to show the various people in the play.
“I do different accents and mannerisms – the characters come from all over Britain and abroad and they are men as well as women so I have to change the pitch of my voice too.
“Some of them say one or two lines but some appear throughout the play. What’s harder is that some of the characters are just horrifically racist or just horrible, awful people so trying to get into their heads is quite difficult.
“My favourite though is Mr Pennington the solicitor. He appears quite early on and he’s in it throughout. I have a soft spot for him because he’s a good guy and really tries to help this woman.
“It’s also nice to know that in what is a bleak story with some hideous people, there are those who are good and who try and help. He’s a nice and well rounded character.”
Despite the subject matter Krissi is relishing the chance to revisit the role and says she is looking forward to coming to Clapham as part of the nationwide tour.
“It’s completely different to anything I have done before and I get to flex my acting muscles which is great – I would never normally get asked to play a 70-year-old Irish man!” she laughs.
“I was really nervous initially and it was massively daunting especially being alone on stage, but it’s incredibly rewarding too.
“I still get nervous as I feel a real responsibility in telling her story because it’s putting a real face to all these things we hear about and see on the news.
“It’s also a really intense 80 minutes in which it gathers momentum from the off and doesn’t stop til the end.
“Clapham is a small venue but it’s the ideal size to tell the story,” she adds. “The audience will be so close to the action which will add to the atmosphere.
“But it also makes it very emotional for them because they get to put a face to all those stories they see and hear about.
“What is great about it is that everyone who comes to see it gets a greater understanding about what it is to be a refugee and the difficulties they face.
“It has opened my eyes a lot more to what is going on. But what’s heartening is that people have really wanted to do something to help.
“I hope as many people come and see it as possible – and have their perceptions and values challenged.”

The Bogus Woman is on at the Clapham Ombibus from Wednesday, November 11 until Sunday, November 15. Tickets cost £15 for adults and £12 for children. Visit http://omnibus-clapham.org/ for full listings.

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