BWW Review: Forward Flux and Pratidhwani's A SMALL HISTORY OF AMAL, AGE 7 Sweet but Doesn't Connect

BWW Review: Forward Flux and Pratidhwani's A SMALL HISTORY OF AMAL, AGE 7 Sweet but Doesn't Connect
The Cast of A Small History of Amal, Age 7
from Forward Flux and Pratidhwani.
Photo credit: Pankaj Luthra

Dear Readers, I know you've heard me talk before about taking the air out of a scene or earning your pauses or pauses you could drive a truck through. Well the latest offering from Forward Flux and Pratidhwani, Lindsay Joelle's "A Small History of Amal, Age 7", while being a sweet and sometimes touching story, suffers from a typhoon of air and a convoy of trucks driving through making the show feel forced and lacking connection.

The small history, as the title would suggest, focuses on Amal (Nabilah Ahmed), a young boy in India who has lost his parents and been sent to live with his Uncle (Gurvinder Pal Singh). Life seems to be getting back on track for the inquisitive young boy until be falls mysteriously ill and is taken to the hospital. Once in hospital he encounters a slew of characters including an orderly (Jay Athalye) who wants to be a Bollywood star, the Doctor and Nurse who can never show favorites but do (Abhijeet Rane and Meenakshi Rishi) and a sick young girl (Varsha Raghavan) who's in and out of the hospital for her own illness.

Joelle's piece, as it says, is just a small history. So small in fact that it doesn't really go anywhere. There's no real growth in the piece or any of the characters nor do their interactions affect Amal's journey other than being there. So, other than this small slice of life, I'm not sure what we were supposed to garner from the show other than that it was sweet and at times touching. Plus, it's so short, and probably could have been even shorter, that there's just not much story there.

I say it could have been shorter as the pace from director Samip Raval could have been tighter with actors picking up their cues quicker rather than waiting for the cue to have passed. It's that air I talked about that needed to be taken out of the piece. But it wasn't just there. Several times, especially in longer monologues, the actors felt the moments were so important as to add in more and more pauses. It got so bad that I began counting to myself and a few times I was able to get to 10, 11 and once even 15 before the actor continued on with nothing else happening on stage to take up that silence. This is not a Pinter play so there is no reason for those kinds of pauses unless you've forgotten your line and I hope that wasn't the case.

Raghavan was probably the least guilty at adding in these pauses and keeping her characters lively and fresh and the most enjoyable to watch. Ahmed was slightly guilty but could have used more levels in her character to keep Amal from being one note. The rest of the cast repeatedly fell into that trap of pauses and made it feel like they were just waiting for their next line and not really in the same play.

Without all the pauses this small history, which was billed at 75 minutes and no intermission, would have probably only been about 50 minutes which further begs the question, why the need to tell this story? And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give Forward Flux and Pratidhwani's "A Small History of Amal, Age 7" a MEH. I just didn't see the point of it.

"A Small History of Amal, Age 7" from Forward Flux and Pratidhwani performs at West of Lenin through October 6th. For tickets or information visit them online at www.forwardflux.com.

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From This Author Jay Irwin

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