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The Village (Theatre Review) The Village (Theatre Review)
The Village (Theatre Review)

“His trousers end at his feet. Who can say I’ll never drink from that water”? This is just one of the many side splitting lines from this wonderfully humorous Indian adaption by April De Angelis  of Spanish playwright Lope De Vega’s The Village.


Set in a town named Sahaspur, described disparagingly by corrupt Inspector of Police Gangwar (Art Malik) as ‘one dusty road and a dog’, it tells the love story of a feisty Hindi girl (Anya Chalotra) and a love struck but not too bright Muslim boy (Scott Karim).


The peaceful village setting is shattered when the corrupt and menacing Inspector and his goons arrive in town to ensure through strong arm tactics that the helpless population vote for their man at the forthcoming polls.


The Inspector’s reign of terror sees him commit unspeakable acts against the villagers with the young Jyoti set firmly in his sights, pushing everyone to breaking point. Events turn when the mysogonistic advances of the Inspector culminates in the rape of Jyoti whilst his father stand idly by. This is too much for the villagers to bear and a peasant uprising of sorts takes place ending in the brutal hacking to death of the Inspector and his cronies.


Despite these dark and serious overtones and exposure of the political machinations and horse trading that goes hand in hand with Indian politics, The Village is essentially a feel-good play. It does however illuminates some of the deeper issues that faces a young modern Indian society struggling to come to terms with issues such as child abuse, the caste system, the role of women and the many other challenges this country of many faiths, religions and political allegiances  faces.


It’s fast paces with comedic lines coming thick and fast from Panna, admirably played by Rina Fatania and the bumbling larger than life Mango, played with such relish by Ameet Chana.


The scene stealers are without doubt Anya as the gusty and quarrelsome, Jyoti, who command of the stage was a sheer delight to watch and Art Malik who was disturbingly towering and frightening in equal measure. A terrific performance from them, and from the hugely talented supporting cast all under the very able direction of Nadia Fall.


Throw in some slickly choreographed dance sequences and amazing scenery changes by designer Joanna Scother there’s little not to like in what is essentially Bollywood on stage. Great acting, inventive writing, biting humour, well worth a trip to deepest East London.


The Village, 7 Sept-6 Oct, Theatre Royal Stratford, E15 1BN. £10+ Tickets and details http://www.stratfordeast.com/whats-on/all-shows/the-village


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