ANITA AND ME: Adapt Tanika Gupta from the original book by Meera Syal
0121 236 4455
Runs: 2h 25m, one interval, till 24 October
Review: 14 October 2015, Alexander Ray Edser
Warm-hearted look at a serious topic.
ANITA AND ME is a free-flowing, warm hearted look at the life of a young, first generation Indian girl growing up in a mining village in the Midlands. Adapted from Meera Syal’s novel (it’s not an autobiography) it demonstrated the best and the worst of British (English) life.
Young Meena is, not unnaturally, much influenced by those around her. As she struggles to define herself within that Western culture she tries to remove herself from her Indian one. Clashes with those around her naturally ensue brought to a head when the local secondary school is knocked down to make way for a motorway. But more important are the clashes that young Meena finds inside herself.
Although not an autobiography, many details are taken from Syal’s childhood. So the boisterous moments when cultures are unselfconsciously shared (including jam tarts and pakoras) ring true and cast a light on what could be possible.
Young Meena is played by Mandeep Dhillon, lively, out-going and ever the optimist. Her great friend – and nemesis – Anita, is given a tough, sharp-edged portrayal by Jalleh Alizadeh. A lovely warm performance as Meena’s dad, a communist rather than a Hindu from Ayesha Dharker and Janice Connolly is very funny, giving one of her best performances in recent times, as Mrs Worrall, the long-suffering, golden-hearted neighbour.
There are some moments when Gupta’s writing loses clarity, but these don’t really detract. Roxana Silbert ensures the whole thing moves energetically along, and that the important message of the play, pleasingly optimistic, doesn’t get lost.
Jalleh Alizadeh: Anita
May Booth-Steel: Mrs Ormerod / Deidre
Ameet Chana: Shyam
Janice Connolly: Mrs Worrall
Ayesha Dharker: Daljit
Mandeep Dhillon: Meena
Joseph Drake: Sam
Kiren Jogi: Aunty Shaila / Fortune Teller
Megan McCormick: Tracey / Sandy
Tarek Merchant: Ned / Bazzer
Chris Nayak: Uncle Amman / Mr Bhatra
Yasmin Wilde: Nanima / Mrs Lowbridge
Original Book: Meera Syal
Adapted for stage: Tanika Gupta
Original Music: Ben and Max Ringham
Lyrics: Tanika Gupta
Director: Roxana Silbert
Set and Costume Design: Bob Bailey
Lighting Design: Chahine Yavroyan
Composers and Sound Design: Ben and Max Ringham
Movement Director: Ann Yee
Assistant Director: Daniel Bailey
Assistant Movement Director: Sara Green
Voice and Dialogue Coach: Zabarjad Salam / Mary Howland
Musical Director: Tarek Merchant
Casting Director: Polly Jerrold
Fight Director: Terry King