DramaNorth WestReview

An Adventure – Bolton Ocatgon

Reviewer: James Mac

Writer: Vinay Patel

Director: Kash Arshad

Inspired by the life story of his grandparents, Vinay Patel’s An Adventureis a continent-crossing drama, steeped in social and cultural tension, yet rich in romance and pathos.

After its premiere at the Bush Theatre in 2018, it now falls into the hands of director Kash Arshad who has triumphantly staged this story, spanning several decades and locations, so that it interweaves seamlessly through time and place. A portrait of marriage across a lifetime, the piece opens with a sparky scene played out between it’s leading players – two wide-eyed youngsters, eager to break the moulds of what their families and cultures have set out for them.

Saba Shiraz as the fiery and charismatic Jyoti, and Esh Alladi as the nervously bumbling yet determined Rasik have a palpable and playful energy, captivating us onto their journey with them and despite the play being an epic tripartite, it feels fast-paced and expeditious. Shiraz brings power and depth yet is naturally comedic with a dry wit that would feel right at home in a modern British sitcom. The leads portray a turbulent relationship, highlighting how we can grow with but also apart from those we share our lives with.

Thanks to Vinay Patel’s deeply personal and monumental script we get a real sense of integrity and moral navigation smattered with moments of pure kitchen sink realism. Without indulging the significant plot points, act one explores the somewhat under-told relationship between African and Asian-Kenyans, with Daon Broni embodying real gravitas and intensity as Mau-mau rebel David. Kudos also to Jessica Kaur who completes the cast and conquers a winning stage debut as the young, ambitious Sonal, sinking her teeth into some meaty scenes alongside Shiraz.

TK Hay’s stage design is a minimal blank canvas but the simple traverse stage is utilised superlatively, allowing all angles of the audience to get up close and personal with the characters in an almost fly on the wall feel at various moments throughout. With AV from Simeon Miller and Grant Archer, which combines vintage home movie style sequences with cinematic narration, the mixed media element of this production provides a rich landscape enabling a dynamic playing field for storytelling.

Evocative and expressive lighting states from Simeon Miller, help set the tone of each segment, creating atmospheric mood shifts with satisfying colour palettes reflecting the cultural tapestry throughout. Annie May Fletcher’s sound design navigates through decades – a particular highlight was the anarchic 70’s punk rock soundtrack that ran through act two.

Patel (perhaps best known for penning the BBC Three’s Murdered By My Father) has created a drama with universal appeal, thanks to the central duo striving to find their own sense of home and a future they deserve. Possibly the most refreshing element of the production is that despite it being a period piece that spans a lifetime, the characters maintain a current and contemporary feel thanks to their humour and revolutionary values.

Runs until 22 February 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

An adventure indeed

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The North West team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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