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Footnote Theatre

 

An Arrangement of Shoes

 

Written by Abhishek Majumdar

 

Directed by Maya Foa

 

Cock Tavern

 

8 -12 June 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A review by Amy Smith for EXTRA! EXTRA!

Spirited narrator Radhika Aggarwal journeys the audience through a celestial tale of war, faith, and family relationships- playing meek Muslim girl ‘Rukhsar’ in this magnetic piece of theatre, written by Abhishek Majumdar.

In a brave theatre approach, An Arrangement of Shoes centres on one character whose vulnerable and humanistic persona captivates spectators in an emblem of a Muslim family, growing up in mid 80’s India.  With only one actress on stage and a set emulating a late 80’s living room, after a few minutes into the performance it’s difficult to remember the fact that you are inside a theatre and not visiting a friend’s house.  The cosy setting of the Cock Tavern theatre in Kilburn is the perfect environment for this intimate performance- with its realistic set you could almost expect Rukhsar to put the kettle on.

A small amount of Indian music is used to create a sense of atmosphere, which is not at all invasive or overpowering considering the lone performer on stage. Lighting is minimal and effective, and used appropriately and    modestly creating an unpretentious and honest ambience which gently sets the scene for a humble Muslim family enduring the effects of conflict, creed and family life.

Radhika’s performance is extremely well directed by Maya Foa.  Throughout the entire piece several pairs of shoes are constantly moved and positioned adversely, in a way that mimics the characters and objects within the story itself.  The child-like movements with the shoes create a charming platform for role play- and when Rukhsar uses the shoes to create parodies of her family it brings a comical yet naïve element to the performance.

Another engaging element of the play is Radhika’s ability to embody different characters within the fictional family- adding an incredible dynamicism and edginess.  It is impressive how a number of relationships can be described and portrayed by one person – it is superbly comical and endearing to watch Radhika enact them - almost like watching a small child perform impressions of their favourite TV characters.

It’s interesting that after all this talk of shoes Rushkar herself does not actually wear any during the course of this piece. This is obviously an intended direction from Maya Foa, perhaps further symbolising the vulnerability of the character and the respect held for older family members.  As mere objects at the beginning of the play, the shoes become more and more significant as the piece progresses, and watching these objects come to life through comical anecdotes and sad stories is also a tribute to the ingenious writing of Abhishek Majumdar, who, through Rushkar, manages to draw a love and compassion from the audience for his characters. 

In one powerful hour- this piece touches on a number of cultural issues which enable the audience to feel a great connection with the piece itself, its characters and its remarkable story telling.

 

9:30 pm

Running time- 60 minutes

All tickets £8

Bookings 08444 771 000

www.cocktaverntheatre.com

 

 

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