Poverty and desperation devour the intimate space of the Tristan Bates Theatre as Nirjay Mahindru’s text tells the tale of two Asian immigrants. Two characters are separated by time but unified with a sense of desperation and inescapable cruelty.
Iqbal Khan’s direction is both intelligent and intricate. Khan introduces each theatrical element purposefully, delivering an uncluttered and comprehensive production. Khan’s ambitious expectations and exacting direction fuel the dexterous and committed performances of both of his actors.
Vasan is simply staggering, constructing a character that is simultaneously vulnerable, vindictive and ferocious.
Anjana Vasan is fantastic in the role of Loretta, a crazed character driven by hunger, fear and grief. She is wrongly imprisoned and abused in the most unimaginable ways, both physically and emotionally. Vasan is simply staggering, constructing a character that is simultaneously vulnerable, vindictive and ferocious. With facial expressions that consume her face and terrify the audience, it is impossible not to be absorbed in Vasan’s performance. In a daringly exposed and meticulous performance, the actor both evolved and tore her character apart in full view of her audience.
The second act is disappointingly neurotic and distasteful by comparison. Raj Ghatak gives a brave and instinctive performance as Kalil, a hopefully ignorant man whose personal losses and lack of qualifications generate an extreme dissatisfaction. Twisted by grief he becomes disgustingly vindictive and prejudiced. An intolerable cruelty burdens the production as it continuously assaults several racial and cultural groups. Ghatak’s heartfelt and dedicated performance fights against a stagnating and distasteful topic with little success.
Each element of this production is passionate and volatile, driven by suffering and cruelty. The writing fades in comparison to the intelligent craftsmanship of this performance. Heavy-hearted and thought provoking, the production serves as a challenging and cruelly impassionate depiction of society.
*** (3 stars)
Runs until 8th December