True Brits (Edinburgh Fringe)
'This is novelistic writing, rather than dramatic writing, in the manner of Zadie Smith or Hanif Kureishi'
Vinay Patel's True Brits, produced by Rich Mason and High Tide Festival Theatre, is a beautifully written monologue for a young London Asian, Rahul, admirably performed by a limber, expressive Sid Sagar - bright-eyed, funny, eager and slightly on the edge.
The play poses the question of how British can you really be as an Asian, but does so with a graceful, satirical wit that strikes to the very heart of nationalism and identity as opposed to mere patriotism.
And although a monologue can never fully substitute for the epic sweep of a big-cast play, there is something of genuine sweep and scale in the vitality of Rahul's observation and experience. This experience sets a fateful romantic encounter against the backdrop of a city in shock from the July 2005 bus and train bombings right through to the healing euphoria of the 2012 Olympic Games.
This is novelistic writing, rather than dramatic writing, in the manner of Zadie Smith or Hanif Kureishi, and it's buoyantly executed and rapidly despatched in just under one hour. Three generations of Rahul's family have lived here, but his dad's ashes are scattered on the Ganges. How much of a Muslim is he? Enough to be caught up in the paranoia of terrorist patrol and body searches.
But he revels in the glory of the Ashes cricket victory - "Flintoff pissed on a bus in Trafalgar Square" - and the crowd singing "Jerusalem" brings a lump to his throat. All ends fairly well; insofar as there is anything as crass as a citizenship test, he passes it in flying colours. Though he curses himself for not having been smart enough to invest in the bunting market.
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