RAFTA RAFTA To 26 June.

Newcastle-under-Lyme.

RAFTA RAFTA
by Ayub Khan Din.

New Vic Theatre To 26 June 2010.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.15pm.
Audio-described 26 June 2.15pm.
Runs 2hr 45min One interval.

TICKETS: 01782 717962.
www.newvic.org.uk
Review: Timothy Ramsden 21 June.

Bridegroom, Bolton and Bhangra add up to serious enjoyment..
There are Bolton bones beneath the British-Asian skin of Ayub Khan Din’s 2007 comedy. North-Westerners throughout, his characters are based on Boltonian Bill Naughton’s 1963 play All in Good Time. Featuring one of Naughton’s heavy-handed northern fathers, it shows a sensitive son unable to consummate his marriage owing to the insensitive, emotionally crippling paternal presence as the newlyweds start life together under the parental roof.

Though four rooms share the space at Bolton Octagon, where Iqbal Khan’s production began in May before its Staffordshire run, this staging in-the-round puts the action suitably among the audience. There’s a colourful explosion at the start when both families arrive at the Dutt’s home, bride Vina’s sari especially resplendent.

A contrast’s soon clear between the fathers, Kaleem Janjua’s Patel sitting quietly as Simon Nagra’s Eeshwar Dutt, beginning an evening-long display of explosive energy and eventual vulnerability, takes command, imposing his presence around the tiny room.

From then, things – and families – fall apart, tensions rising and comedy mixing with more heartfelt passages. Among the comic elements are comments showing the characters taking the BNP in their stride, and Harvey Virdi, as the groom’s mother, repeatedly blocking young Jai’s attempts to pop into the bedroom and usurp Atul’s prerogatives.

Virdi’s as successful in serious discussions in an accomplished performance on a stage crowded with fine work. Every moment of her performance seems to arise from Lopa’s years as wife, mother – and a woman carrying questions about her husband’s closest friendship from decades ago.

Mitesh Soni is a touchingly comic presence as happy young Etash, while Elizabeth Cadwallader, as the one White married into the family, is kept in reserve for a fine putdown of her bumptious husband. But her manner shows why, apart from the cultural traditions of Asian marriages, Rafta, Rafta (title words of a beautifully reflective song, its meaning ‘Slowly, slowly’ adding up to Naughton’s original title), the ethnic setting is important, giving a positive energy that contrasts White northern working-class dourness.

Deftly directed, acted with an assured detail that makes everything seem to flow naturally along, the whole show is a serious joy.

Eeshwar Dutt: Simon Nagra.
Atul Dutt: Darren Kuppan.
Jai Dutt: Tony Hasnath.
Etash Tailor: Mitesh Soni.
Jivaj Bhatt: Guy Rhys.
Lopa Dutt: Harvey Virdi.
Lata Patel: Rani Moorthy.
Mollyu Bhatt: Elizabeth Cadwallader.
Laxman Patel: Kaleem Janjua.
Vina Patel: Bhavna Limbachia.

Director: Iqbal Khan.
Designer: Lis Evans.
Lighting: Ciaran Bagnall.
Sound: Andy Smith.
Fight director: Kate Waters.
Assistant direector: Kimberley Sykes.

2010-06-25 01:02:43

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