Speaking for Ourselves

A review: The grandparents' adventure

A review: The grandparents' adventure

Daniel Nelson

 Migrant Voice -
 Migrant Voice - A review: The grandparents' adventure

Vinay Patel calls his play about his grandparents’ life An Adventure, and it’s an adventure for the audience, too, as the story moves from 1950s India, to Kenya and then Britain.

The mood, the couple’s relationship and the story-telling changes with the geography. 

The opening scene as Rasik in borrowed suit courts the young Jyoti – even younger than her suitors realise – is a delight: witty, sharp, sexy.

He lures her, and us, with his openness, sense of adventure and the promise of a foreign land.

But when Jyoti joins her husband in Kenya, she finds that his dream of a multiracial, just, independent country is threatened by the Mau Mau rebellion and the brutal British backlash.

They reject both sides, preferring a liberal, non-violent middle path but choice is forced on them by farming partner and angry rebel David.

The scene is set for a powerful personal and political drama. Unfortunately, the political clash of ideologies forces the personal drama off the stage. The potentially fascinating impact of the uprising on the small settler family (to say nothing of the position of the Asian community in an African country) is lost, in favour of a didactic debate.

And then it’s England, and racism, and demonstrations in support of exploited Asian women workers, and the struggle to dodge the discrimination by working ever harder. And a teenager. Yes, the focus returns to the strains on the family, with the sexiness and romance and light-headedness of the opening scene a faded memory.

And so on to the dramas of Old Age – and two confrontations as Jyoti and Rasik’s adventure runs its course. One of the clashes explains why the play’s Kenya section is given such prominence.

This is a hugely ambitious play, which puts a human and humane spotlight on Britain’s Gujarati community, on Kenya Asians, on British Asians, on migrants, on people.  What an adventure, they’ve been on, what a contribution they’ve made.  Vinay Patel doesn’t quite bring it off, but his characters are worth listening to and he clearly has talent. His adventure continues.

+ post- show discussions:

3 Oct, discuss the show with others, 7.30pm

* An Adventure is at the `Bush Theatre, 7 Uxbridge Road, W12, until 20 October. Info: 8743 5050/ bushtheatre.co.uk