An Adventure – The Story of Extraordinary Journeys by Ordinary People
Review by Hilary Dawes
This epic story is based on the experiences of author Vijay Patel’s own grandparents.
It is 1953 in Ahmedabad, India, and spirited teenager Jyoti (Saba Shiraz) prepares to meet one of the five eligible suitors lined up for her by her father. Jyoti has her own idealised notion of love and marriage, based on her favourite Bollywood movies, and is determined not to give the very nervous Rasik (Esh Alladi) an easy ride, poking fun at him for the fit of his borrowed suit and his unworldliness. After a series of lively and funny exchanges, Rasik finally wins over Jyoti, promising her a lifetime of adventure, starting in his native country of Kenya with the opportunity to travel to England.
So follows the first part of their journey, leaving India and arriving in Kenya, during the era of the Mau Mau rebellion. Rasik befriends fiery Kenyan patriot David (Daon Broni),
and buys his farm in order to rent it back to David, who is banned from owning property by racist laws. But as the uprising escalates, Jyoti refuses to endanger her family by giving sanctuary to David, and eventually the couple flee to the safety of Britain.
As they settle in Britain, Rasik strives to improve himself in his career as a surveyor, whilst we see Jyoti’s fiery spirit emerge further as she becomes involved as a trade union activist during the Asian female garment workers’ protests in ‘70s Britain. We follow the ups and downs of family life, as Jyoti struggles to accept her daughter’s ambitions to leave home and widen her horizons, much as she had herself many years earlier.
The third part of the play reaches the present day, where we see Jyoti and Rasik in their old age. The moving final scene will leave audiences with much to reflect on regarding life, love, family and friendship.
With powerful performances from all four cast members, it was difficult to believe that this was Saba Shiraz’s professional stage debut, portraying her character so confidently and convincingly, from teenager, to middle-aged mother, to elderly lady. Esh Alladi’s character was likewise totally believable, and the pain and trauma of David’s turbulent life was powerfully depicted by Daon Broni. Also making her professional stage debut was Jessica Kaur, giving an assured performance in the dual roles of Sonal and Joy.
Thanks to the skilled creative team, the various decades and locations were represented though the ingenious use of props, audio-visual effects and evocative music tracks.
In spite of being just over three hours long, this was a mesmerising and thought-provoking production from start to finish.