Monday, May 14, 2007

North is North (Rafta Rafta - National Theatre)

I'm Lancashire born and bred (and bloody proud of it, might I add) and caught the play going habit thanks to trips to Bolton's Octagon Theatre with the parents. It was with pleasure therefore that I spent Friday evening listening to Lancashire accents on the stage of that bastion of southern metropolitanism, the National Theatre.

Rafta Rafta is Abdul Khan-Din's updating of Bill Naughton's 1963 play 'All in Good Time', with the action switched to the home of an Indian family. Naughton's basic conceit of newlyweds forced to share a terrace with their in-laws and unable to consumate their marriage because of it is retained. But although Atul and Vina's struggles in the bedroom provide the driving force behind the play's narrative and much of the comedy, this play is much more than a simple bedroom farce. The depth comes from the relationship between Atul's parents the overbearing but good hearted Eeshewar and his long-suffering wife Lopa. What at first sight is just the good hearted bickering of any couple who have been together 30 years may actually hide a darker secret, which Khan-Din is brave enough to leave unresolved.

But first and foremost Rafta Rafta is a comedy, and although at no point did I feel at risk of wetting myself the laughs do keep coming thick and fast. Throw in a beautifully judged performance from Meera Syal as Lopa, and a very clever two storey design from Tim Hatley, and you will be hard pressed not to fall in love with this clever warm hearted play.

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