A Passage to India, 4****, London

by Simon Dormandy
Based on the book by E M Forster.


Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP to 24 March 2018.
Tues – Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr 30 mins One interval.

TICKETS: 020 7870 6876.
Review: William Russell 23 February.

A journey worth taking

This imaginatively staged well acted and cleverly constructed play does justice to E M Forster’s splendid novel about the Raj and the horrors of colonial life. Forster had no doubts about how awful those Anglo Indians in their closeted existence treating the Indians as some sort of sub species to be tolerated but not allowed into their lives. The Empire, while bestowing some good legal and parliamentary institutions as well railways, exploited the sub continent ruthlessly. The problem with the play is that there is really nobody to sympathise with other than the schoolmaster Fielding, who does accept the Indians as friends rather than subjects. Adela Quested, who has arrived with her possible future mother in law, Mrs Moore, to visit Ronny Moore, her probable future husband the local British magistrate, wants to see the “real” India. This, although she does not grasp it, is not on offer.
Mrs Moore makes the acquaintance of Dr Aziz, a Moslem, while visiting a Mosque, and he, deeply flattered by the acquaintance, invites her and Adela on a picnic to see the local sight – the Marabar caves.

On the day Mrs Moore feels unwell and does not go into the caves, Fielding, who was supposed to be in the party, fails to turn up, thus removing a white sahib to look after the women. Adela and Aziz go in to the legendary caverns which apparently have a strange echo. Adela, who is having doubts about marrying Ronny, gets lost, panics, and drops her binoculars before finding her way out. Aziz is also lost. Something has happened. The local police chief, there on a visit to do something else, leaps to conclusions, Adela is in no state to say what was wrong, and Aziz is charged with assault. At which point the British community embark on a full hue and cry.

It is all presented with minimal props, the performances are strong and the play itself does the novel, which is dense and subtle, justice. Richard Goulding is patently decent as Fielding, Pheobe Pryce creates an Adela just that right mix of gel on the verge of spinsterhood planning to wed a man she does not love, and Liz Cr0wther is sympathetic as Mrs Moore, who opts out of things when the trial threatens. It is arguable that Asif Khan makes Azis, a prickly, complicated man, rather too hard to like which almost diminishes the injustice being done. But in the end the production which originate at the Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton, is a rewarding affair played out to extremely powerful background music which shows the Raj was not what it was said to be, something Forster makes quite clear.

Mrs Moore: Liz Crowther.
Callendar: Matthew Douglas.
McBryde: Christopher Doyle.
Mrs Callendar/Stella: Hannah Emanuel.
Hamidullah: Tibu Fortes.
Fielding: Richard Goulding.
Turton: Nigel Hastings.
Aziz: Asif Khan.
Edward Killingback: Ronny.
Godbole/Das: Ranjut Krishnamma.
Musician: Asha McCarthy.
Adela: Pheobe Price.
Musician: Meera Raja.
Mahmoud Ali: Maanuv Thiara.

Directors: Simon Dormandy & Sebastian Armedo.
Original Music & Musician: Kuljt Bhamra.
Set & CostumeDesigner: Dora Schweitzer.
Lighting Designer: Prema Mehta.
Re-Lighter: Martin Mclachlan.

2018-02-25 15:00:13

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