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Love N Stuff – Theatre Royal Stratford East, London

Writer: Tanika Gupta

Director: Kerry Michael

Reviewer: Robert Cottingham

[rating:3.5]

Press image 1 Tony Jayawardena &Rina Fatania photo by Robert DayLove N Stuff is an hilarious new play by Tanika Gupta who has brought back the hugely popular characters of Mansoor and Bindi from her earlier play Wah! Wah! Girls! for a second outing. Actors Tony Jayawardena and Rina Fataniareprise their rôles as an elderly Indian couple from Stratford and by all accounts they are a couple who have had their fair share of ups and downs. The first scene has them at their crankiest and most difficult, arguing with each other at the departure lounge where Mansoor is waiting for his flight to Delhi. The problem is that Bindi is not convinced that they should go and leave Stratford behind and so she decides to hatch a plan to convince him to change his mind.

It involves enlisting several members of their family and friends down to the airport where they join efforts to try to stop Mansoor from getting on the plane. Akbar and Janice (a camp Mumba-ite and Northern English woman), Baggy, a 16 –year old white boy who talks like he’s from the hood; and a Scottish policewoman are some of the many characters who are conjured up in the way of Mansoor’s dreams of life away from London. The trick is that all of the parts are played by these two actors – it does sometimes get confusing trying to keep track of who is who and so it might be best to keep the programme close to hand.

The humour does tend towards the broad sometimes for it is quite a farcical story. Yet occasionally, for all the silliness, the play rings entirely true on the ups and downs of marriage and how a long-together couple can become estranged from each other. And Gupta clearly has a great ear for the nuances of contemporary dialogue, not just how it changes from generation to generation in terms of age but also the cultural influences, ie the Indian tendency to say ‘isn’t it’ to confirm a statement or answer a question.

If anything, Gupta may have been a little over-emphatic with the repeated Indian references, at times it feel as though we’re watching Indians as others imagine them to be, the comedic style lending itself a little too easily to stereotypes. Still, the play is extremely energetically performed by Fatania and Jayawardena without an interval and it would be churlish to complain too much about a mostly enjoyable play.

Photo: Robert Day

Runs until 5th October

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