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‘Multitudes’ review – political potboiler has spice and flair

‘Multitudes’ review – political potboiler has spice and flair

March 7 2015

New playwright examines British Asian (Muslim) identity and politics in thrilling production…

By Suman Bhuchar

THOUGHT-PROVOKING and fast-paced, “Multitudes” currently on at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, London and directed by Indhu Rubasingham keeps you thoroughly absorbed and stimulated.

Actor-turned-writer John Hollingworth in his debut play wanted to explore the ever-changing dynamics of his home city, Bradford.

Spending four years doing research he has crafted a piece that deals with identity, politics, faith and multiculturalism.

It begins with a suave Muslim councilor, Kash (Navin Chowdhry) smoking a fag on an outdoor balcony overlooking a sea of women protestors, who are having a sit in, complaining against Islamophobia and military intervention on foreign shores.

His girlfriend Natalie (Clare Calbraith) is chatting to him. Kash is waiting for the Tory Prime Minister to come and address the local Conservative Party on the eve of the Tory Conference. Kash is potential MP material and the future looks promising.

Back home though, he has a rebellious teenage daughter, Qadira (Salma Haque), who is a practising Muslim and is flirting with radicalism as a way of challenging parental authority.

Meanwhile, we have another smooth party activist, Julian (Asif Khan), along with his very bright and on the ball PR Rukhsana (Maya Sondhi) who also happens to be Muslim, waiting to assure the PM a comfortable passage.

There is a lot crammed into the story and the portrayal of these three Muslim women – from the convert, daughter and PR person is fascinating.

Things begin to unravel rapidly for Kash – first his girlfriend, Natalie decides to surprise him by converting without realising how it will change the dynamics of their relationship – it’s one thing to be a white ‘live-in’ girlfriend, it’s quite another to be a Muslim ‘live-in’ girlfriend.

Natalie’s mum, Lyn (Jacqueline King) a local grass roots Tory supporter, is not happy with her daughter’s decision, and bemoans constantly about how England has changed.

In a strong cast of six actors, four actors play only one role while Sondhi (whom people will know as the dutiful daughter in “Citizen Khan”) plays several – her cameo as the waitress in a fast food joint is as classic as her turn as the Tory PR; also specially loved Asif Khan’s role as the hack, Shafiq.

It’s worth seeing the show just for these two versatile performers who constantly have to shape shift and keep up in this quick moving production.

Multitudes” is also a timely intervention in the debate around identity especially in the run up to the election.

Main picture: Kash (Navin Chowdhry) and Natalie (Claire Calbraith) by Mark Douet

*‘Multitudes’ by John Hollingsworth, Tricycle Theatre, 269 Kilburn High Road, London NW6 7JR until Saturday, March 21 7.30pm (with Saturday and Wednesday matinees) No Sundays.
Check for availability:
Panel discussion events
Women & Islam Wednesday March 11, 6.15pm-7.15pm £5 “Our Essential Values” – The end of multiculturalism and the future of diversity in the UK Wednesday, March 18, 6.15pm-7.15pm £5 Box office: 020 7328 1000, tel: 020 7372 6611


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Written by Asian Culture Vulture