Playwright Vinay Patel’s debut full-length play, ably performed by Sid Sagar, is a clever and compelling monologue that paints a fresh portrait of being young and Asian in Britain today.
Rahul is a young man finding his way through romance, friendship and family in post 7/7 London. He identifies clearly and singularly as British, but there are forces around him that suggest otherwise. A conversation with the father of his white British girlfriend and a ‘random’ stop and search hint at institutionalised racism, but Patel does not make this the focus of the play. Instead, through Rahul’s energy and positive attitude we see the complexity of his identity emerge.
Against the jubilant backdrop of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Rahul wonders why there are only two Asians on Team GB but quickly moves to some brilliant likening of nineties indie bands to political parties. He is under pressure from his parents to date an Asian girl, but finds nothing in common with other Asians. He reflects on the fact that his family have all spent their lives by the Thames but that their ashes will undoubtedly be scattered in the Ganges. “I’m the reset button,” he declares, full of hopeful optimism.
Sagar truly inhabits the different minor characters, transforming effortlessly from one to the other, and brings immense warmth and vulnerability to the character of Rahul. Some simple changes of clothes and clever staging help to take us on this journey through Rahul’s memories and desires.
True Brits is engaging, intelligent writing with heart that does not shy away from issues of politics, race and identity but humanises them. I will certainly be keeping an eye on Patel’s future projects.
True Brits will be performing at The Bush Theatre in London on 18-19 November 2014, with further dates and venues to be announced.