Going to The Vaults for the first time in the old Waterloo tunnels was not what I would call an enjoyable experience. As fringe and hipster as it may look it also looks like a third world country could do better in creating a theatre venue that does not intoxicate people with its dampness. It is a very claustrophobic place, uncared for, and it made me uncomfortable. Of course it won’t be the same for everyone – many may like the vibe, the decoration or the graffiti on the walls of the tunnels.
True Brits written by Vinay Patel, is a reflection on the life of a Pakistani boy living the events of the terrorists’ attacks of 2005 and the Olympics of 2012. How do such moments impact a generation and how can they change lives? It is a topic well worth writing a play about. We are led, perhaps too extensively, through Rahul’s teenager adventures as he falls in love and starts dating a girl called Jess. However, all of this makes us care for Rahul and understand what kind of boy he really is and the culture he lives in, contrasting with the culture his mother and grandfather came from and the culture inherently imprinted on his skin colour.
David Mumeni has a very big task at hand as, apart from playing Rahul, he plays and embodies all the other secondary characters interacting with Rahul. At times it becomes a bit too manic and slightly confusing, but those are little things to polish as the overall performance is very good. Mumeni successfully creates a scope of emotions in his eyes and expressions that make the audience engage – laugh and cry, rejoice and hurt with him. His physical energy as the sole performer is just right to keep us interested throughout the play.
This play has incredible potential still and should be worked on until it flawlessly communicates the message the writer set out to communicate. I would find better ways to show the difference between the time gaps and polish the character differences. The play feels long in some bits that dwell for too long into personal unrelated moments in Rahul’s life. The parts that impact me the most are people’s reactions to him after the attacks and how that changes him. I’m even left wondering what I would say to someone harassing a Pakistani boy at the time just for the sake of his ethnicity. These cultural issues and prejudices still have a place to be discussed as London is such a melting pot of nationalities and conflicts can easily arise. 4/5
Review written by Sofia Moura.
True Brits is currently showing at the VAULT Festival until Sunday 22nd February. For more information on the production, visit here…