Reviewer: Helen Jones
Two’s Company is a tiny two-person theatre company formed by a couple of friends, Fadia Qaraman and Nyla Levy. In their show Different Is Dangerous, they wanted to explore the melting pot of cultures in Leeds and to discover the reality of the city.
The show is made up of a variety of monologues. Some are verbatim copies of interviews with members of the Asian community in Leeds and some are fictional, however, it is impossible to tell which is which as even the fictional ones are written in a believable style. The show starts and ends with snippets of the real interviews broadcast for the audience to hear.
The people they have interviewed are of a variety of ages and backgrounds. Some have been born in the UK and some have emigrated here but the majority have experienced some form of racism in their lives. Mention is made of the differences in perception made by events such as 9/11, 7/7 and the murder of Lee Rigby. There is also a discussion over how although intertwined, culture and religion are not the same thing. But each person has their own opinions and own experiences which are faithfully retold by the two actors.
Both actors are skilled at changing their voice and demeanor in line with the person they are portraying. The modern young woman, the reserved housewife, the middle-aged man and the elderly who’s frailty is evident in both action and vocal performance. Most of the interviewees are interesting to listen to, and the way the headphone verbatim technique is used helps to give the piece a documentary feel appropriate to the subject matter. However, it can become repetitive and with no changes of pace in the reporting of the interviews, the show can appear to drag in places. However, at only forty minutes long there are not many of these places and it holds the interest throughout.
The two actors are themselves of partially Eastern origins, with one being half Indian/half Canadian and the other half Palestinian/ half Finnish, so there is a definite sense of their own experiences behind both the concept and final production of the show.
Different Is Dangerous is a phrase actually used in one of the interviews and is a very succinct phrase to sum up how many feel the various cultures are thought of, even in such a diverse city as Leeds.