BWW Review: AN ADVENTURE, Bush Theatre
Documenting his grandparent's experiences of moving overseas, Vinay Patel has written a three-hour epic, which puts ethical choice and identity at the forefront of the narrative. Spanning 60 years and a couple of generations, Madani Younis' production is a beautiful reminder of the importance of family, and the values we place upon it.
Beginning in the mid 50s we meet Jyoti, an intellectual young woman who has found herself in the position of choosing a male suitor. Methodically she rearranges the photos of five bachelors, carefully weighing up the pros and cons of each. Her criteria for choosing is varied; looks, intelligence, spontaneity and their future prospects all come into play.
Rasik enters and makes more of an impression on her than she'll ever admit. Trying a variety of tactics to win her over, he makes jokes and many promises, and quickly works out how to make her smile. There's such a delicious chemistry between Anjana Vasan and Shubham Saraf. As an audience we watch these lovers unite and connect, and get ready to begin their life together.
What unfolds for the rest of the play is just that - life. And it's certainly turbulent. Unemployment, protests and a couple of children are just a few plotlines used by Patel to cause conflict and drama. The piece as a whole has a natural flow, with the pair aging well throughout the production. Everything about it seems real - we believe every moment and hang on each word.
It's really worth mentioning that both actors throughout are truly fantastic. From his direction, Younis has drawn out some stellar performances. It's rare to see such authentic connection on stage; both Vasan and Saraf are compelling to watch. They provide us with so much to get behind. We feel their anguish, celebrate their victories and root for them through struggle.
The set design from Rosanna Vize is gorgeous. Deliberately stripped back, the stage is deliberately bare, and a lot of trust has been placed in Patel's ability to story tell - which is sublime. Working in sync with Sally Ferguson, the lighting design allows lots of shadow to be used. These silent images add so much to the story and are a really fantastic touch from the creative team.
My only qualm lies with the third act, in regards to the introduction of two new actors, who play the older Jyoti and Rasik. No faults can be found in their performance, but it seems odd that the production has added these fresh faces. We've spent hours falling in love with Saraf and Vasan, and it's a shame to not see them finish off the story.
However, what we have here is a well-researched, beautifully written and acutely directed production - that is sure to make a big impact on the audience. A tale of love, loss, hope and desire, An Adventure really is a must see.
Photo credit: Helen Murray