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The Tiger and the Moustache (Bristol)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
It is always a bold undertaking dealing with history on stage. What do you leave in? What do you edit, condense or plain ignore? Your ambition is even bolder when you tackle powder keg issues. Theatre maker Saikat Ahamed places the birth of a nation alongside the birth of his mother. India declares independence on the day his Mother is born and so the adventure begins.

This one man show covers a cast of hundreds as Ahamed introduces family, friends, students, passers-by, politicians and even the odd animal to his audience. From the profound to the pathetic, historical references are thrown at the audience thick and fast. What quickly becomes clear however is that you don’t have to keep up. The dates, names and times aren’t important. What’s more important are the characters and Ahamed’s relationship with them.

Ahamed gives a fire cracker of a performance switching from one character to the next and checking in as the narrator in between with enough clarity to make each one clear but without giving a slickly choreographed performance. By making his show rough around the edges and not focusing on transitions as much as concentrating on voices, Hamid’s charisma as a performer shines through.

The Tiger and the Moustache can be compared to one of the characters introduced to us. His Uncle grows a moustache and we are told he is, “aiming for Flynn but capturing Chaplin”. This show has big ambitions for slick, polished storytelling but the joy and pure charm comes from the smaller moments, the clunky changes and the throwaway lines.

On a night when it appeared the audience wanted to sabotage with phones, sweets and early exits, Ahamed gave us a largely entertaining, often charming if slightly over long evening.


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