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Posted by : RodDungate on Apr 15, 2017 - 12:47 PM London
London.
GUARDS AT THE TAJ
by Rajiv Joseph


3Stars***
The Bush Theatre, 7 Uxbridge Road, London W12 8LJ to 20 May 2017.

Mon-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 80 mins No interval.

TICKETS: 020 8743 5050.
www.bushtheatre.co.uk
Review: William Russell 13 April.

Guard duty and the price of obedience

The Bush, back in business after a year-long £4.3m refit, is in a handsome state and the opening production, an award winning American two hander directed by Jamie Lloyd, is undeniably interesting and well performed. It is inspired by the legend that Shah Jahan, who had it built as a tomb for his favourite wife, then killed or multilated the builders so that nothing so beautiful could be built ever again. Two guards are standing backs to the Taj Mahal – they are forbidden to look at it or to talk, but, of course, they do. Babur is a chatterbox, a dreamer, an inventor in his mind of impossible things like airplanes, Humayun, son of a senior guard, is a pragmatic chap who knows, if he rises at all in the hierarchy of the imperial guards, it will be as his father’s son.

They talk, which is against the rules, discuss who has built the Taj, the penalties for misbehaviour, recall an adventure in the jungle when they slept in a sandalwood platform they built in the trees, and – having looked – are taken aback by the beauty before them.



But seeing beauty has a price. They get offered promotion to look after the emperor when he visits the harem, something Babur finds incredibly salacious and exciting, Humayun an honour. But the mood turns black as they discover they have to chop the hands off the men who built the Taj and cauterise the stumps, and things turn very bloody indeed as the play descends further into the world of the horror movie and the arguments about the price to be paid – Babur thinks they have killed beauty –for obeying or not obeying orders are set out. The result is the originally beautiful world of sunshine and bird song is bleak, dark engulfed in gore. In the end only one man remains on guard.

Darren Kuppan is an impressively buff and chatty, irresponsible Babur, while Danny Ashok makes Humayun sweetly caring for his impetuous friend. There is an impressive simple set by Soutra Gilmour and director Jamie Lloyd has set the re-opened theatre on its way as well as can be expected given the choice of play which, for all its awards, is not quite what one expects for such an occasion. The result is that the Bush is back in business but not quite with a bang. It is, however, no damp squib of an evening.

Humayun: Danny Ashok.
Babur: Darren Kuppan.

Director: Jamie Lloyd.
Designer: Soutra Gilmour.
Lighting Designer: Richard Howell.
Sound Designer & Composition: George Dennis.
Fight Director: Kate Waters.
Costume Supervisor: Lydia Crimp.
The Bush, back in business after a year-long £4.3m refit, is in a handsome state and the opening production, an award winning American two hander directed by Jamie Lloyd, is undeniably interesting and well performed. It is inspired by the legend that Shah Jahan, who had it built as a tomb for his favourite wife, then killed or multilated the builders so that nothing so beautiful could be built ever again. Two guards are standing backs to the Taj Mahal – they are forbidden to look at it or to talk, but, of course, they do. Babur is a chatterbox, a dreamer, an inventor in his mind of impossible things like airplanes, Humayun, son of a senior guard, is a pragmatic chap who knows, if he rises at all in the hierarchy of the imperial guards, it will be as his father’s son.

They talk, which is against the rules, discuss who has built the Taj, the penalties for misbehaviour, recall an adventure in the jungle when they slept in a sandalwood platform they built in the trees, and – having looked – are taken aback by the beauty before them.



But seeing beauty has a price. They get offered promotion to look after the emperor when he visits the harem, something Babur finds incredibly salacious and exciting, Humayun an honour. But the mood turns black as they discover they have to chop the hands off the men who built the Taj and cauterise the stumps, and things turn very bloody indeed as the play descends further into the world of the horror movie and the arguments about the price to be paid – Babur thinks they have killed beauty –for obeying or not obeying orders are set out. The result is the originally beautiful world of sunshine and bird song is bleak, dark engulfed in gore. In the end only one man remains on guard.

Darren Kuppan is an impressively buff and chatty, irresponsible Babur, while Danny Ashok makes Humayun sweetly caring for his impetuous friend. There is an impressive simple set by Soutra Gilmour and director Jamie Lloyd has set the re-opened theatre on its way as well as can be expected given the choice of play which, for all its awards, is not quite what one expects for such an occasion. The result is that the Bush is back in business but not quite with a bang. It is, however, no damp squib of an evening.

Humayun: Danny Ashok.
Babur: Darren Kuppan.

Director: Jamie Lloyd.
Designer: Soutra Gilmour.
Lighting Designer: Richard Howell.
Sound Designer & Composition: George Dennis.
Fight Director: Kate Waters.
Costume Supervisor: Lydia Crimp.
 
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