Two Billion Beats by Sonali Bhattcharyya. The Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond to 4 February 2023. 3***. William Russell.

Asha (Shala Nyx) and Bettina (Tanvi Virmani) are sisters but very different people. Asha, the elder, is concerned about the works of the politician BR Ambedicar who was critical of the actions of Gandhi and also of Sylvia Pankhurst. She is involved in essays she has to write and in standing up for the rights of minorities – or the underclasses might be better. Bettina is bullied at school, is desperate to get a hamster, and squabbles with her sister endlessly. It has been a major success for the Orange Tree twice before. their exchanges are funny, the need to stand up for the rights of the individual and to fight unconscious bias on the part of their teachers make for a stimulating hour and half straight through. The performances – it is a new cast – are first rate. I am not sure that I want to add anything to what the play says and I don’t quite agree with some of those who have reviewed it in the past but at this stage in its life I don’t really feel that matters.

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