BWW Review: I WANNA BE YOURS, Bush Theatre
Ella is from Yorkshire. Haseeb is from London. They are totally in love. But no matter how hard they try to make things work, they can't seem to fight off a growing elephant in the room. Zia Ahmed's play is a lyrical journey of connection through inner conflict. Poetic in form, the story provides a whirlwind exploration of a couple that can never be.
Anna Himali Howard's production is a delicious mix of humour, heartbreak and political activism. Incredibly playful in the way it's been directed, the actors move about the stage with a rhythmic fluidity. With no set but a few chairs, the different worlds are conjured by expert storytelling, physical gesture, gorgeous lighting and sound. Jennifer Jackson's movement direction compliments the production beautifully.
Playing the lovers are Emily Stott and Ragevan Vasan. The pair's chemistry is brilliant and their delivery of text is superb. Mixing direct address with duologue, they are completely at ease in the studio space. As playful as two bunny rabbits in spring, they move around with an energy that radiates around the room. The enthusiasm exuded is rather contagious
Supporting them is BSL actor-interpreter Rachael Merry, who is far more than just someone that translates. By exaggerating her movements and actions, as well as the characters referencing her throughout, Merry becomes a way to highlight and punch through important story beats. She is vital to the performance and it is wonderful to see BSL used in such an inventive way.
The play is both uncomfortable and friendly in its tone. You're absorbed into a world that is inviting, yet unsettling. Before long, you become increasingly on edge, as you know things cannot end well. Instead of digging into prejudice and discrimination through the lens of frustration, Ahmed's play does it through the aspect of love. It makes it that much more heart breaking, but still, it is a must see.
Photo: Paines Plough