Writer: Nick Ahad
Director: Stefan Escreet
Reviewer: Sue Collier
Partition is a highly creative 60-minute one act play about the lasting effects surrounding the partition of India into two separate states (India and Pakistan – East Pakistan has since become Bangladesh). This seminal moment in history occurred 70 years ago on 15 August 1947 and is joint West Yorkshire Playhouse and BBC Radio Leeds production.
The Stage is set as a radio studio, with a radio play created live in front of the audience. The actors carry their scripts throughout and the audience is treated to an amusing demonstration of radio play sound effects performed by the Stage Manager.
The story follows what should be the happiest day of Saima and Ranjit’s lives; their wedding day. Saima’s Muslim and Ranjit’s Sikh parents are not at the wedding. The effects of the history of the Indian subcontinent continues to tear families apart and hang over this young couple’s union.
This is an extremely moving production in which we learn about the incredible horrors experienced by millions of families when communities in India were forced to split overnight during the creation of Pakistan. There are outstanding moments of tenderness and humour throughout the play which serve to help the audience understand the lasting effects of Partition on families across the world to this day. The audience are given an explanation for why some families are still unable to accept cross cultural relationships and as a result, you can start to appreciate why this is so.
A 15-minute Question and Answer session at the end of the performance enables the versatile cast and production team to discuss their views and members of the audience to describe the still remaining effects of Partition on their own families. Writer Nick Ahad’s made the decision to include a high amount of humour in the script, so as to avoid a difficult subject becoming boring or too miserable, and the decision is a successful one.
This play has the power to bring communities together, as witnessed after the play where many members of the audience remained in the theatre foyer after the performance. And on the night of this review, conversation and hugging could be seen taking place between the various communities. Partition is an important play and one that should be used to educate, especially for young people in schools nationwide.
Runs until 9 September 2017 | Image: Contributed