Writer: Saikat Ahamed
Reviewer: Holly Spanner
A one man play, The Tiger and the Moustache (previously called Bangladesh) has been developed with support from Bristol Ferment at Bristol Old Vic. Well known to the Bristol theatre scene, local writer and performer Saikat Ahamed prowls his way to centre stage, light of foot and snarling. Following the story of Ahamed’s own mother, Hashi is born on the first day of a new political nation, growing up in the Sunderban jungles, smiling and surrounded by flying tigers. Snapshots of time are taken, as the audience retrace her steps from the 1947 Partition to Glasgow in the 1970’s right up to present day as she travels from Bangladesh to the United Kingdom.
Barefoot, Ahamed gradually sheds layers of clothes throughout the story, adapting his attire with the addition of various accessories. The odd sound effect is added for emphasis, along with the warm lighting glow of a Bangladeshi sun, while a chair, woven with material forms the central prop. Integrating physical theatre and song into the performance, he mimics personalities and nationalities of people met along the journey with a very funny, and sometimes even alarming, likeness.
The way in which the narrative is laid out, with time jumping back and forth is both confusing and ingenious. The non-linear timeline means the plot feels very clearly segmented, and initially difficult to follow. However, it allows the viewer to fill in the gaps themselves, which is a very clever way to engage an audience in thinking about cultural perception.
How does a journey shape a person? And to what extent does our heritage and culture manifest itself after taking such a journey? The Tiger and the Moustache tackles some difficult issues, including political instability, nationality, pride and identity. Ahamed addresses these issues in a way which puts the audience at ease, mixing in generous helpings of comedy with a dynamic, truthful and energetic story.