Old Red Lion Theatre
Reviewed – 20th June 2019
“an intimate insight into the institution and ideals of marriage”
Based on the actors’ real-life experiences, The Knot, directed and produced by Dan Daniel, tells the story of two men from vastly different worlds who face parallel struggles in their romantic lives. Aidan Hayes (Caolán Dundon) is an Irish actor who is trying to bring his Argentinian fiancé to the UK, but the lengthy visa application and a lack of physical intimacy soon exposes the cracks in their relationship. Imran Basra (Aiyaz Ahmed) is a Muslim Pakistani who has recently discovered his Sikh Indian wife of twenty years has been unfaithful despite the familial sacrifices both had made for their marriage. Through a series of monologues, Aiden and Imran explore the meaning of love, forgiveness and commitment and whether ‘tying the knot’ is ever really worth it.
The dialogue is highly conversational which suits the performance well and helps to form a greater connection between the characters and the audience. At times, Ahmed and Dundon ask the audience questions about marriage and divorce directly, and the request for the audience to turn off their phones at the beginning of the show is cleverly woven into the show’s opening scene. There are also self-referential moments such as Dundon joking about the woes of acting in a fringe production above a pub which provide welcome humour to the tense and uncomfortable unravelling of the two characters’ love lives. Some of the script is a little uncomfortable, for example, Imran claiming sex to be a means of payment in a marriage, and it is not always clear if these statements are a joke.
Ahmed and Dundon are both very strong in their roles and the transitions between the two men’s stories are seamless. Imran’s arch is particularly moving and his religious and career struggles make him multi-dimensional and compelling. Aiden is however a less sympathetic character and at times borders on being a caricature of an angry Irish man. Aiden’s story revolves almost entirely around his Argentinian fiancé and the play would perhaps benefit from her inclusion.
The stage and lighting (Irene Delfanti) are well-thought-out. The set is very simple, but this assures that focus is kept on the characters and their stories. The audience sit on two sides of the small square stage which is empty apart from three seats-cum-containers. A small black circle is in the corner of the stage facing the audience. This acts as a platform for which Imran and Aiden answer and make phone calls, and the stage is concurrently plunged into darkness and the converser illuminated when a phone call is answered.
The Knot offers an intimate insight into the institution and ideals of marriage and is a poignant reminder of the hard work, compromise and commitment required to maintain a healthy relationship.
Reviewed by Flora Doble
Photography by Dan Daniel
Old Red Lion Theatre until 6th July
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: