Writer: Nick Ahad
Director: Stefan Escreet
Reviewer: Rich Jevons
Leeds-based writer Nick Ahad’s radio drama Partition has returned to Leeds Playhouse after a sell-out debut at the venue in 2017, before being broadcast on BBC Radio Leeds.
The new cast of four actors – Sushil Cludasama, Balviner Sopal, Mez Galaria and Luke Walker – take on a range of characters affected by the partition of India, some 70 years ago.
What is quite novel about the show, is that we see the sound effects being made on stage, using everyday items from rubber gloves to pots and pans.
Saima and Ranjit are looking forward to their wedding day, but the legacy of the Indian partition still looms large. So the dysfunctional families have to battle it out to see if they can let bygones be bygones.
For many of us the subject of the historical division of India on faith lines, that led to the slaughter of some two million people, may not be one that we are familiar with. But Ahad does not get across his message in a didactic or polemic way – there is lots of humour to sweeten the poisonous pill that is the genocide.
Ranjit seems to think that, given the importance of their marriage day, the two families will come together. But his eighty-year-old granddad Rajpal is still haunted by surviving the horrors of partition. And Saima’s widowed mum prefers to bury the memory of the atrocities and sees no need for forgiveness of the rivaling religious sides in the fracas.
The ensemble are able to add a total realism to their characters under the talented direction of Stefan Escreet. While Ahad’s script signifies a real maturity and tender approach to this divisive subject that he has researched in great depth. While the denouement is not exactly a happily-ever-after fairy-tale ending, we are left with more understanding of the issues at stake and a real passion that this should be more widely shared.
So it is crucial that many people, especially the younger generation, get to see this incisive and powerful play. And after its performances at Leeds Playhouse, the production will embark on a tour to The Studio, Bradford Alhambra for pupils of Bradford Schools with selected performance available to members of the public before culminating with a major tour of Leeds Schools.
Runs until 10 November 2018 | Image: David Lindsay