Reviewer: Jennifer Louise Acton
Rick Limentani’s debut is new theatre in its richest, most exciting state. Dark comedy blends with conflict to deliver an absorbing exploration of the human condition, bolstered by the clear passion and dedication of the director and his young cast. The play attains a compelling rawness which many low budget productions strive for, and boldly tackles issues of race, faith and tradition through a combination of stark drama and amusing satire. Limentani makes stellar use of his impressive background in film, drawing on his award-winning prowess in screen-writing to produce the absorbing script, whilst also using his experiences shooting short films to inform his directorial choices.
The action is divided between England and Tajikistan, and uses a filmic ‘split screen’ approach to capture the events which unfold, meaning both countries are on stage throughout. The whole performance revolves around the dangerous lie which Tajik farmer Benham (played by Rian Perle) tells in order to protect his beloved farmlands from vicious intruders. Very much the dominant father, Benham desperately schemes to save his family from their terrible fate, and sends his reluctant son, Fariad (played by Indranyl Singharay), to England in search of their salvation. The interplay between father and son is one of the highpoints of the play, with comic depreciations of British culture going down a storm with the audience.
Once Fariad reaches England however, his father’s carefully laid plans begin to unravel. He becomes enamoured with the British way of life, and with an emotionally damaged girl, Jennifer (played by Rebeca Cobos). Cobos’ vibrant performance adds pace and comedy through the cultural division between Fariad and herself.
Paul Micah’s evocative sound design and Ivan Capillas’ music creates the perfect background for the twin ethnicity of the play, switching between drum-heavy Arabic music, and Western guitar solos. Amusing culture shock scenes are augmented by the use of recorded phone operator sounds and untimely disconnections during the frequent overseas calls between father and son.
Evidently, the predominant theme of the production is freedom as a grey, rather than black and white, concept. Each of the three characters are bound together, affecting each other’s liberty both positively and negatively, exploring the dichotomy between the compassion and selfishness of human nature.
With limited resources, Limentani has delivered the Midas touch to this production; his long, dialogue-heavy scenes deliver tension and humour in equal measure, with the pared-down cast and set delivering much with very little. The prowess of the script and the actors themselves deliver a rewarding, true-to-life, spectacle.