There or Here
Reviewed – 25th January 2018
“The play teeters toward melodrama in the second half as the plot takes an unexpected turn”
In recent times almost no industry has been spared from jobs being outsourced overseas, but in There or Here the audience are asked what happens when life, or at least the gestation of it, is outsourced? Written by Jennifer Maisel, There or Here looks at the relationship between reproductive autonomy and parenthood, fertility tourism, marital disconnect and emigrant connection to their birthplace.
Robyn and Ajay (played by Lucy Fenton and Chris Nayak), are an American couple desperate to make plans for the future before the present catches up with them. Robyn’s cancer diagnosis has brought an immediacy to decisions about starting a family and so, wanting a child that is biologically theirs, the couple seek out a surrogate in India.
The play is set in early 2006 but alternates between past and present, centring around the week the couple spend in India arranging the surrogacy. Both Fenton and Nayak give convincing performances at such a critical juncture in any relationship.
Apart from the outsourcing central to the plot, we see other forms of outsourced labour made possible by technology in a globalised world. With the cancer and surrogacy causing a strain on their relationship, Robyn and Ajay talk very little to each other, preferring instead to open up to a technical support operator, drive-through attendant or even phone-sex worker. Rakhee Thakrar is versatile as all three and more, although underutilised as merely a sounding board for the leads monologued frustrations. Ursula Mohan and Manish Ghandi double up as the surrogate’s doctor and husband in India and Robyn’s mother and mother’s much younger toy boy in America, for some light comic relief.
The play teeters toward melodrama in the second half as the plot takes an unexpected turn. It feels as if Maisel is trying to cover too much ground and given the complex themes would have benefitted from a less confused outcome.
There or here was produced by Special Relationship productions, whose mission is to “find work that features underrepresented demographics”, boasting for this production “an entirely female, BAME, and/or LGBTQ+ cast and crew”, something that unfortunately is still all too rare in British Theatre. It is the combination of the authentic performances, sound, visuals and set under Vik Sivalingam’s direction that make for an overall engaging and thought provoking show.
Reviewed by Amber Woodward
Photography by Ikin Yum
There or Here
Park Theatre until 17th February
Boundless Theatre present
the UK première of
By Glenn Waldron
29 March – 22 April
Boundless Theatre Artistic Director Rob Drummer today announces the full company for the UK première of Natives, a new play by Glenn Waldron. Previously Company of Angels, Boundless Theatre produces exhilarating new theatre in the UK in conversation with Europe. Drummer directs Ella Purnell (A), Fionn Whitehead (B), and Manish Gandhi (C) in the production which opens at the Southwark Playhouse on 31 March, with previews from 29 March, and runs until 22 April.
“Where are the grown-ups to do something, where are the grown-ups in this story?”
Three countries. Three teenagers. One average, life-altering day. A young man battles with feelings of love and violence. Another is stuck with the image of someone being pushed from a rooftop. And a girl must choose between her friends and her conscience.
Natives is a rallying cry to a generation of unlikely heroes and celebrates coming of age online in a chaotic world.
Glenn Waldron is a London-based playwright and writer. A former magazine editor and journalist, Glenn was Editor of i-D magazine and his feature writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, the Independent, Vogue, W magazine, and other publications. His first play Forever House premiered at the Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth and his work has since been performed in Germany, Norway, the Netherlands and the USA. Upcoming productions include The Here And This And Now at TRP and End of the Pier at Hackney Showroom. Glenn also lectures in journalism and pop culture at the University of the Arts London.
Ella Purnell plays A. She is making her professional stage debut. She was one of Screen International Stars of Tomorrow 2010. For film, she will appear in the forthcoming Churchill, her credits include Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Never Let me Go, Maleficent, Intruders and Kick Ass 2.
Fionn Whitehead plays B. He is making his professional stage debut. He was one of Screen Internationals Stars of Tomorrow 2016. For television his credits include Him; and for film, he will appear in the forthcoming Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and The Children Act.
Manish Gandhi plays C. He was included in the British Council’s 2016 global list of 33 cultural influencers from around the world promoting freedom and equality. For theatre his credits include Now We Are Here (Young Vic), Brown Shakespeare (Efua Theodora Sutherland Drama Studio, Legon-Accra), Rizwan (FTII, Pune), Limbo and Cock (National Centre of Performing Arts, Mumbai). For television, Rides upon the Storm, Judwa Raja and Na Bole Tum; and for film, That Transient Interval, Chai Shai Biscuits and Rizwaan.
Director – Rob Drummer
Designer – Amelia Jane Hankin
Movement – John Ross
Video Design – Cate Blanchard
Lighting – Zoe Spurr
Sound Design – Father
Boundless Theatre (formerly Company of Angels) produces exhilarating new theatre in the UK in conversation with Europe. For fifteen years, they have produced and toured new plays, nationally and internationally and created projects and experiences that young adult audiences share in. They nurture and empower the next generation of visionary artists, brings plays, diverse perspectives and ideas from Europe and engage with a range of artistic forms beyond theatre-making.
29 March – 22 April
8pm Monday – Sunday
Matinee 3.30pm Saturdays and Tuesday 4th April only
£20 | £16 concessions | £12 preview performances
Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London, SE1 6BD
020 7407 0234