Like Enemies of the State

Like Enemies of the State

Genre : Storytelling/Verbatim/Political Theatre
Released Date : 15 / Oct / 2013
  1. Like Enemies of the State

A thought-provoking and visually engaging play based on the real-life stories of three child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Having escaped one of the world’s deadliest wars, they find themselves alienated from society and forced to live as outcasts. They, amongst many others, are facing a difficult decision: either retreat into poverty and social rejection or take power into their own hands by rejoining the battle.

In the summer of 2011, Writer and Director Tommy Lexen travelled through the DRC in an attempt to understand the destructive madness that affects many young children in this region, and the reasons why so many children still are fighting in one of the world’s deadliest wars; a war with more than 5 million casualties.

Like Enemies of the State emerged from his interviews with former child soldiers, street children, local and international NGOs, UN representatives and the Congolese government.

This play is based upon these eyewitness accounts. It is their story, a story about the violence of a forgotten generation.

“Where do they find their best chance of surivial – in peace or in war?”


In July 2011 playwright and director Tommy Lexen travelled to one of the most unstable and dangerous countries in Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to carry out extensive research about the lives of former and present child soldiers in the region. During this three-week expedition, the research team travelled from the capital, Kinshasa, to the eastern parts of the DRC around the town of Goma, which is one of the most war-ravaged locations in Africa in modern time. The research resulted in first-hand exposure and uncensored personal accounts from 18 former child solders, both boys and girls, ranging from the ages of 12 to 19.

“A London based playwright will this week travel to one of the most unstable countries in Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to carry out extensive research for a new play…” – Jaselyn Melling, Creative Boom Magazine (2011-07-12)

In order to ensure that the perspective of numerous parties would be considered in this play, and to gain a better understanding of the deeper social, political and economical issues that are present in the DRC, our team also met with human rights researchers, government and UN-representatives, local and international NGO’s, street children, orphans, social workers, church representatives and theatre practitioners, all based in the DRC. These unique first-hand accounts are the basis of ‘Like Enemies of the State’, a play that aims to deepen the audience’s understanding of DRC’s complex social and political legacy as well as offering new insights into the world of child soldiers. It achieves this through an exploration of their life experiences whilst raising wider issues of child poverty and gang warfare, which are equally applicable to sections of UK society and our own forgotten and marginalised youth. The play raises important questions about how children survive in times of war, whether they should actively participate and the consequences for child soldiers who want to return to a life of nonviolence.

★★★★ “Like Enemies of the State ended up being one of the most powerful, thought-provoking and brutal pieces I have ever seen” – One Stop Arts (

★★★★ “An excellent play. Really gives you insight on being a child soldier in the Congo.” -UrbOnDash

★★★★ “An interesting example of politically engaged theatre, with its creators motivated to broaden the consciousness of the audience […] It is an ambitious production, combining several stories and moving in between genres. “ – What’s Pleen Seen (

★★★★ “Brilliant. Go and see!”- Take 3 (

“In equal parts due to its source material and engaging staging, this performance drives home its message like a wake-up call to the guts. It is a rare thing to see a performance that elevates those unheard voices into visceral and engaging art.” – Raspberry Media (

“An ambitious and brave undertaking […] Knowing these stories are real makes them hit home. We loved the transformation of the New Diorama into colourful Congo” – Londonist (

“Like Enemies of the State is small in size but big in ambition – and achievement. It’s expertly but unflashily staged, making clever use of every inch of limited space” – One World UK (

“A compelling piece of theatre. […] Rather than merely recounting an horrific situation, it gave a real insight into how and why it continues to prevail, despite international efforts to stop it, and hit home the message that, until poverty and hunger are addressed, until the children are valued as children, life in a militia will often be preferable to life on the streets.” – Jo Salkilld (