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Saturday, 18 September 2021

REVIEW: Small Change at Omnibus Theatre

As a Peter Gill and Omnibus first-timer, I was really looking forward to my trip to see ‘Small Change’. The Omnibus is a lovely little theatre, situated a close walk from Clapham Common. The set, designed by Liam Bunster, was a highlight of the evening for me. With the seating arranged in thrust, the white stage allowed us to be transported to various locations with the aid of large, industrial-looking rectangle boxes. With the piece being based on the east side of Cardiff, near the docks, it gave you a clear sense of location.

Being written and staged at the Royal Court in 1976, the writing still maintains a modern pragmatism and manages to simultaneously get to the point very quickly whilst also skating around the bigger questions. We explore themes of time, class and gender roles to name a few.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

REVIEW: Blood Wedding at Omnibus Theatre, Clapham

If you want to be surprised and leave the naturalistic British theatre for a little while, go down to Clapham to see Blood Wedding, the first part of what some have called the “rural trilogy” of Spanish playwright Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca. Even though this new production by George Richmond-Scott is set in the urban jungle of London, the tone of Blood Wedding and its multicultural cast give it a true sense of foreignness that I greatly welcomed. 

The story tells of the Son and the Bride who are getting married very soon. They are being intently watched by the nervous Mother and Leo, the bride’s secret ex-lover. The play is full of symbols, passionate and dramatic elements that fuel its other-worldliness. This lends itself well to the Spanish heritage of the characters, swaying between tradition and the future. In addition, musical interludes elevate the play and remind us of the importance of slowing down – especially in this city.

The Son’s Mother has been mourning her husband and worrying about her son’s fate every day. On the wedding day, she is very aware of how bad omens could take over. On the Bride’s side, the Friend is a joyful presence, very happy go lucky and encouraging about the future. On the other side of town, Leo and his Wife, who have been invited to the wedding, are threatening the day’s peace. The wedding party ends with the Bride and Leo, who are secretly in a self-destructing love relationship, running away into the night after the ceremony.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

REVIEW: Gauhar Jaan, The Datia Incident at Omnibus Theatre

The opulence and contradictions of the Indian culture revive in a fascinating tale of female pride and strive for independence.

Born in 1873, singer and dancer Gauhar Jaan gained widespread fame for her talent, as well as for her defiance of a male-dominated society. Her position of courtesan, likewise her European counterparts, gave her access to better education and a relative freedom of making her own choices, which, inevitably, clashed with the authoritarian attitude of her patrons. Feeling entitled by gender and status, these men would attempt to rule her artistic career, as well as more private aspects of her life.

Referred to as 'the Datia incident', one of these notable attempts is reimagined by playwright Tarun Jasani and relates to a biting altercation between 'the Queen of the Arts', played by Sheetal Kapoor, and the Maharaja Bhawani Singh Bahadur of the kingdom of Datia (Harmage Singh Kalirai). At the time of the incident, Gauhar Jaan had been invited into court to perform for an official celebration but would categorically refuse to submit to the direct requests of the monarch. Determined, as she was, to establish her right to self-determination.
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