London is always bursting at the seams with exciting events. But there is one annual fringe theatre festival that is close to my heart – A Season of Bangla Drama. This is now in its thirteenth year and is running from the 1st till the 29th of November 2015; bringing a programme of the best new talent in theatre, dance & music to London’s East End.
The organisers have asked me to review and blog about this year’s plays. And as with every year, it’s an absolute honour for me to engage with a festival I would encourage everyone to attend. It’s a month of discovering emotions within you that you may have never felt before, and watching the stage come alive with colour, powerful delivery, rhythm, and storytelling that continue to enrich our community.
By Filim Company
Written by Kayser A. Foyz
I’ve always loved The Space in Isle of Dogs. A charming arts space; small but robust. So I was excited to hear Always Unfinished would be delivered here. I remember just how much I had enjoyed last years play by the Filim Company. And this year, it certainly did not disappoint.
The whole play took place in one frequented location (the living room) and centred on a series of conversations. There were no central characters. Each role was vital in shaping the narrative and also exhibiting a different perspective on life and human condition. The props were perfectly chosen for the play, and well sourced and placed. We walked into to find one of the characters (the youngest of three brothers played by Dmitry Ser) painting. This was a before the play was due to start. So as we settled into our seats, we were unsure if we were late or if he was just setting up. He walked around the canvas, paused and made a few more strokes, and then, as if he was truly alone in the theatre, he continued to paint. I loved these details and the directors attention and awareness of the audience and how to really set the tone for the rest of the production.
The story centered on an unbreakable bond tying together three men and one woman as they navigate the uncertainties of love, life and making different but profound choices. It tells the story of a woman who abandons accountancy to become a writer and brothers whose lives have taken wildly different paths. With romance, comedy and identity politics, Always Unfinished explores expectation versus ambition in British Asian culture through an unorthodox family and a successful outcast. It examines how creative careers are largely discouraged in favour of the perceived safety of more lucrative and higher status vocations such as law, medicine, finance and business. This study on the condition of relationships, both real and ideal, is told with a lightness of touch and with characters the audience can relate but asks the fundamental questions; what does it take to follow your heart and is it ever right to forfeit ones dreams?
This question was responded to in a number of ways throughout the play. Each conversation, be it between two brothers, or the three of them together, or between the key female friend and one of them, enabled us to enter a different world and almost make us question our own feelings on the matters discussed. Between stifled giggles from well executed narrative, and pin drop silence through quite difficult sibling disagreements, we were reminded as viewers just how fragile relationships are and how in more ways than one, we could relate to each character.
Although the actors were all fantastic in their own right, I felt Pearce Sampson (the corporate middle brother) was especially impressive, at times I actually forgot I was watching something and felt it was an argument with my own brother haha.
The narrative, emotional content and exploration of the way in which different personalities amongst friends and family deal with varying situations, was coupled with excellent movement on the stage and very well use of the props. I thoroughly enjoyed the wholesome theatrical experience this production offered, but in a very intimate and personal setting.
It was an emotional rollercoaster, and on a number of occasions I felt (and I am sure I speak on behalf of many that saw this play) that we were suddenly privy to conversations we should not have the access too – that is how relatable and well natural the actors delivered the nuances of each character and the shared memories and experiences that had shaped their current feels. Hats off to everyone involved. My only constructive feedback would be that it was maybe a little too long, and one of the last conversations between the female role and the eldest brother was a little on the long side. But aside that – Always Unfinished left me and my friends discussing our lives and relations all the way home and that in itself is a sign of a fantastic piece of art. To not only remind us of the daily joys and sorrows but also of the greater picture that is life. By far one of my favourite productions of the season this year. Well done to everyone involved! A must watch and a play that should be touring the UK as a wonderful message of love and strength.
Cast: Taj Kandula, Noor Dillan-Night, Pearce Sampson and Dmitry Ser
Kayser A. Foyz – Writer/Director
Kobir A. Forid – Producer
Shahed Miah – Production Manager
Tracey Hammill – Lighting & Sound
HANA Make Up (Farhana) – Make Up Artist
Azad Yasin – Photographer
Bhavika Patel – Production Assistant
Yasmin Chowdhury – Production Assistant
Mouri Jaman – Production Assistant