Eva, a young Romanian, gets a cleaning job at The Tower, a motorway service station somewhere in the middle of middle England. When she notices music emanating from a parked lorry, she inadvertantly blows the cover of Mashama, a stowaway fleeing persecution in Zimbabwe. Setting out to help Mashama, Eva risks her job and - once dodgy chef Neil finds out what she's doing - her personal safety.
The British characters in the play are variously glib, venal, shallow, rude and self-absorbed in ways that make Mashama's nobility somewhat easily earned. The ease of our lives contrasts painfully with the situation Mashama has left behind, although the employees of The Tower treat the very real possibility of its imminent closure by management rather lightly.
Eva chooses, in the end, to return home and look after her sick mother. I'm pretty sure this is the same choice made by Magda, a Polish guest-worker, in John Godber and Jane Thornton's Dreaming in English (Afternoon Play, 14 September 2007, repeated 28 January 2009). I wanted both Eva and Mashama to confront British ignorance and complaceny more than they did. Mashama, in particular, seems to melt away amidst an orchestral invasion of the service station.
But perhaps this failure of connection between Britain and two representatives of "abroad" is the point of the story. Eva and Mashama have a common bond, although they can also criticise each other. There's no real meeting of minds between Eva and her workmates, despite Carol's apparent openness and level-headedness. There's also a sense that the British culture on display has been diluted and corporatised into nothing: it's all brainstorming and broken condom machines.
The service station is peculiarly quiet too. The Tower is a haven of peace compared to the services I use regularly, but perhaps I'm just driving the wrong roads. Or perhaps I'm just not paying attention to the lives of people like Eva and Mashama - people who disappear in the cracks of our inward-looking society.
Eva ...... Cristina Catalina
Mashama ...... Lucian Msamati
Neil ...... Stephen Hogan
Carol ...... Lorraine Ashbourne
Crosby ...... John Lightbody
Geoff ...... John Hollingworth
Denise ...... Annabelle Dowler
Driver ...... David Hargreaves
Directed by Sally Avons and broadcast on Wednesday 5 August 2009 at 14:15 on BBC Radio 4.