17 July 2008

Behind The Image compiled and edited by Michael Bhim, Alia Bano & Nina Raine

Please note - in most cases, the character names I have given are my own dubbing. Performers were just given as a random list and several spoke for more than one voice.

Part 1 - compiled and edited by Michael Bhim

Muslim 4 - Nathalie Armin
Policeman - Tom Brooke
Yusef - Ameet Chana
Gay Muslim 2 - Navin Chowdhry
Prim Police woman/Scottish wife of convertee - Ruth Everett
Gay Muslim 1 - Ronny Jhutti
Matthew Marsh - Muslim convertee
Lambeth/West Indian - Nathaniel Martello-White
Somalian born Muslim/UK born Muslim - Peter Polycarpou
Muslim 3 - Shane Zaza

Directed by Dominic Cooke as a thoroughly well rehearsed reading in the Jerwood Upstairs. Part of the 2008 Rough Cuts season

A bit scary because Ronny Jhutti and Navid Chowdhry were in the audience for 30 odd minutes before they got up and became part of the production.

Part 2 - compiled and edited by Alia Bano & Nina Raine

Forthright woman - Stephanie Street
Muslim - Shelley Conn
Young non Hijab wearing - Farzana Dua Elahe
Policewoman - Thusitha Jayasundera
Iraqi role player - Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Muslim convertee - Jodie Whittaker

Directed by Nina Raine after a 15 minute interval after which everyone returned to a very hot auditorium.

Playwrights Michael Bhim and Alia Bano interview a diverse cross section of Muslims at the mosque, university, at work and at home, and draw their responses together into revealing and essential tapestry of beliefs, atitudes and perspceives on life in the UK - it says in the programme.

Part one could have been so dull if it weren't for the wonderful performances. So many mezmerising people. Matthew Marsh has such a gorgeous voice and speaks with such gentle authority. Tom Brook has hypnotic eyes and an effortless charm. Shane Zaza held the audience every time he spoke. Peter Polycarpou had a wonderful pace and timing and gorgeous voice. Navin Chowdhry has beautiful eyes too !

Part two suffered from being on second, if you see what I mean. We were hot and full of so many ideas, I am not sure we were ready to see the female point of view but there were six amazing and balanced performances from beautiful women. I was particularly in awe of Thusitha Jayasundera.

I'm not sure if this format could be progressed much further. They had questionaires for the audience but once again, I felt as though I was in a 5 per cent minority of people who did not work in drama. How valid would such responses be? We were all literate liberals who didn't really learn anything new from the piece but enjoyed having our own feelings and impressions endorsed. I am not sure that was the intended purpose.