A Week At The Theatre | The Father and The Assassin, We Started To Sing, Girl On The Train*

Quite the week for lengthy play titles! Managed to catch two plays before they finish next week and I got to visit a theatre in London I hadn’t been to before.

The Father and The Assassin at the National Theatre
Rating: 5/5
Running until: 18th June
Ticket link: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/the-father-and-the-assassin

The Father and The Assassin is an epic new play that follows the life of Nathuram Godse from his childhood to when he killed Mahatma Gandhi. Alongside Godse’s own life, we also get to see the how his and Gandhi’s political journeys tie into the movement for India independence as well as going through the history of India and the British Empire of the time. Given the amount of plays that exist about British history from the British perspective but it’s rare to see British history told from an outside perspective. And in the case of Anupama Chandrasekhar’s script, it’s a very honest one.

The storytelling throughout the play is a testament to Chandrasekhar’s script, with frequent direct address to the audience and timeline jumps keeping the audience on their toes. Not once was I bored during this play, it made me feel so eager to find out what was going to happen next. Particularly as it was a period of history that I knew very little about going into this. There is really great production aspects with fantastic lighting by Oliver Fenwick and music composed by Siddhartha Khosla that helped enhance the atmosphere of the scenes as a couple of examples.

The cast is led by Shubham Saraf who is exceptional as Nathuram Godse, who was so captivating in every moment that he had on stage. Similarly, Paul Bazely is fantastic as Gandhi as we follow him throughout his later years. Also thought there were fantastic performances from Sid Sagar, Nadeem Islam and Ayesha Dharker delivered brilliant supporting performances too.

I really, really enjoyed this play and I’m so glad I got to see it before the run ends next week. If you’re looking for a theatre trip next week, get to the National.

We Started To Sing at Arcola Theatre
Rating: 3/5
Running until: 18th June
Ticket link: https://www.arcolatheatre.com/whats-on/we-started-to-sing/

We Started To Sing is a family drama based on the writer, Barney Norris’, own life and experience. The play follows the family at the centre of the play across three decades highlighting their own unique love within the family. This is also the Arcola’s first production to be played in their indoor space since we were all allowed back into indoor theatres again, so I definitely wanted to support them. We Started To Sing is a very slow moving piece where each scene reminded me of Harold Pinter’s work, which didn’t always work for me. Because it’s slow, sometimes you feel like there’s quite a bit missing in terms of outside context. Even though the run time is 2 hours long, the pacing made the play feel about 3 hours long for me. I did also find it quite limiting that the play spans across such a long time frame which includes the same actors playing their characters throughout this time. Yet not much is done to make the characters look older and it feels like the scenes could have taken place a week later, had the time jumps not been indicated through the script.

That said, I did enjoy the performances, it was really nice to see such a tight knit ensemble that resembled, what felt like, a true family dynamic with Robin Soans as Bert and Naomi Petersen as Fiona were particular standouts. I also appreciated the really cool video projections which showcased what I assume are Barney Norris’ actual home videos which were a nice touch.

Overall, it was a bit too slow for me, but I really enjoyed the performances and it’s always nice to support a theatre so close to home.

The Girl On The Train at Upstairs at the Gatehouse*
Rating: 3/5
Running until: 3rd July 2022
Ticket link: https://upstairsatthegatehouse.ticketsolve.com/shows/1173621707/events/428457420

A new theatre for me! I was very glad to be kindly invited to the press night of The Girl on the Train to tick another North London theatre off my list. I was intrigued by how Paula Hawkins’ widely acclaimed novel would be adapted to the stage. This also gave me an opportunity to refresh my mind of the story since it’s been years since I first read the book and watched the film adaptation. With a 2 hour run time, the play adaptation does move quickly but left me wanting more.

I did enjoy how fast paced the play was and how this really helped drive the mystery element enough to keep the audience satisfied. The show has really good lighting by Seb Blaber which helped further emphasise this. And I thought the leading performance of Katie Ray as Rachel was superb, along with Chrystine Symone and Tori Hargreaves who delivered strong performances too.

But I was bothered by some of the direction choices. The play could’ve really benefitted from some stronger fight choreography because it looked unrealistic at times. There were a few instances throughout the play where nearly every time Rachel mentions or talks about Megan, Megan would then come on stand somewhere in the scene and then go off again. Which just got repetitive after a while, especially after we had already met her. So the audience would not have needed reminding that many times. There was also an intimacy scene that had one of the characters physically resisting and then giving into it which is just incredibly outdated and really doesn’t provide the romantic purpose it thinks it serves.

Bit of a mixed bag for me on this one, but really does benefit from a truly fantastic leading performance from Katie Ray.

What have you seen this week? Let me know!

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