Thursday, 9 May 2019

Theatre Review - A Thousand Splendid Suns

Review ****

For the majority of us who live life without conflict, tyranny and manipulation overshadowing our every day, we need a different perspective like this to remind us to be more mindful of the plight of others. Khaled Hosseini’s ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ explains the decades of misogynist rulings in Afghanistan and focuses on the 1990s when the Taliban were at their most threatening.

 Sujaya Dasgupta as Laila and Amina Zia as Mariam

Two women… Mariam and the young, Laila, are the two wives of small business owner, Rasheed. They all live under the same roof. There’s tension in the household but once Laila’s baby arrives, and at the same time the threat from outside forces begins to bite, a sisterly love grows. Wife beater, Rasheed is jealous and suspicious as the women defiantly unite, but the odds are against the pair because there’s a bigger struggle going on and they are forced to conform.

The script is excellent and the players are well practiced and they work their way through with outward ease. Some performances feel slightly novice. Overall however, this is sophisticated enough and the delivery is tight. All members of the cast achieve quietly spirited and mindful performances. The three key characters mentioned above are played by Amina Zia (RSC, BBC, Lionsgate); Sujaya Dasgupta (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama) and Pal Aron (RSC, Sky 1, Film 4) respectively.

Roxana Silbert’s directs Ursula Rani Sarma’s adaptation for stage. Being Silbert’s final show as The Rep’s Artistic Director it is a challenging undertaking; but the approach is contemporary, inventive and precise resulting in a compelling and all-encompassing watch whether one is familiar with the story or not. Much has been accomplished by the designers and the creatives working solidly together. Visually and aurally this play is quite ‘splendid’.

Review by Theatre Critic, Debra Hall who attended the press night performance of 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre on 08 May 2019 This review also appears online at Remotegoat

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