BWW Review: THE ARRIVAL, Bush Theatre
Tom and Samad have spent their entire lives separated. When one was given up for adoption, the other was raised with their biological parents. But despite their distance apart, when the pair finally meet, they realise they aren't so different at all. Award-winning director Bijan Sheibani's debut play is a tender - but at the same time - harrowing examination of family loyalty and betrayal.
Honing in on the bond between bloodlines, the narrative takes you on an unpredictable rollercoaster of obsession, desperation and innate human action. Vulnerability seems to be a common theme present in Sheibani's work. In both Barber Shop Chronicles and The Brother's Size - plays that he directed - masculinity is put at the forefront of the narrative, detailing the struggle to be oneself and also dig deep into what makes you unique to others.
For The Arrival, this thread appears again as Tom finds it tricky to find a place in his family lineage. As the brothers get closer, things get murky and companionship isn't as easy as it once first seemed. Scott Karim and Irfan Shamji are superb casting as the siblings. Their chemistry on stage is undeniable and their ability to endure the production's stresses put upon them is impressive.
On stage for the entire 70-minutes, they commit fully to their varying intentions, creating many highly watchable moments. Sheibani's words pierce through like a gut punch; there are many lines that evoke visceral reactions from the audience. The play has a delicious layer of authenticity - which anyone who has ever fought with their family can will be able to understand fully.
Aline David's movement direction is a mixture of soft touch and feral attack. The juxtaposition of the two evokes two similar but vastly different sides of one coin, both desperate to understand each other but unable to ever truly connect. Gareth Fry's sound compliments these moments perfectly, as does Oliver Fenwick's lighting.
This is emotional and important work, and a story that is told with such a beautiful depth and clarity in its intention.
Photo: Marc Brenner