Writer: Emteaz Hussain
Director: Esther Richardson
Reviewer: Selwyn Knight
Caneze and Sully are teenagers in love. But Caneze’s brother disapproves – Caneze is an A grade student hoping to study pharmacy at university; Sully is a downbeat cook. As they become more serious, her well-connected brother takes steps to stop the relationship and install his friend as her new, upgraded, consort. Can their love survive in the face of such opposition? And to what lengths will they need to go if they want to be together?
Emteaz Hussain’s script is supremely well-written and believable. We see the jubilation of young love with Sully’s attempts at street cred and raps. We also see despair, resignation and hope, all merging smoothly as the young lovers grow and mature, individually and as a couple. Supporting the actors is Sarah Perks’ set. Almost industrial, it has a life of its own, full of secret compartments and lit panels allowing the action to flow smoothly and for the same space to stand in for several locations. Subtle changes in lighting from Aideen Malone provide warmth but also a clinical coldness at times of despair. Sudden changes signal switches in mood and keep the audience on track throughout. The final piece in the design jigsaw is in Arun Ghosh’s soundscape – mostly subtle, always enhancing the mood.
But, of course, a splendid script and design are as nothing without sharp direction and strong central performances and the young cast of Krupa Pattani as Caneze and Adam Samuel-Bal as Sully do not disappoint. Director Esther Richardson ensures that their performances are grounded in realism, so that they carry the story superbly. Every mood, emotion and feeling is clearly displayed, as is their growth from slightly goofy teens to careworn young adults. Samuel-Bal makes the slightly awkward Sully three-dimensional. The early scene in which he learns just who his date’s brother is is played beautifully straight and provides lovely lightness, a contrast to the later moods. He ensures we are rooting for him and feel the injustice when they are parted and inwardly cheer with feelings of genuine relief as the story unfolds. Pattani shows her journey as she feels abandoned, turns more to religion and, in a particularly memorable and well-realised scene, learns the truth of her new fiancé’s intentions and true feelings towards her. Powerful stuff. Assisted by small changes in costume, they show us the journeys of these characters so that we are able to empathise completely.
Quite simply, all elements of this achingly bittersweet, tender and moving production from Tamasha Theatre work in complete harmony with no discordant elements as it explores the conflict between young love and family ties. Not always an easy watch, that the audience has ridden an emotional rollercoaster with the cast is clear as, at this performance at least, the whole audience sat for a few moments of silent contemplation after the houselights were raised and the cast had left the stage before standing, leaving the house and discussing their shared experience in hushed tones.
Photo: Robert Day | Runs until 23rd May