Tag Archives: Sharon Singh

Arabian Nights – 4 Stars


Arabian Nights

Hoxton Hall

Reviewed – 19th September 2018


“Jonny Dixon’s superb puppets and masks feed our imagination and enhance this youthful yet enlightened production”


Iris Theatre presents a new, pertinent version of the ‘Arabian Nights’, turning Hoxton Hall into a wonderland of illusion. Rich colours, masks, puppets, dance and music blend and fuse with the narration to take us on a familiar journey, but down a different path. Nessah Muthy’s heartfelt rewriting of this centuries-old treasure adapts the framework of the story to show the strength and independent minds of women. King Shahryar finds revenge for his wife’s unfaithfulness by marrying a new wife every day and killing her the following morning. When he decides to marry Dunzayad, his young servant, her older sister, Sharazad, uses her gift of storytelling to buy time and save her. In doing so, she gradually sees behind the king’s brutal façade and challenges him, questioning her own feelings as well. Muthy also adds clever twists of gender within the tales, giving them a modern relevance.

Director, Daniel Winder, masterfully interprets the script with art and inspiration. Jonny Dixon’s superb puppets and masks feed our imagination and enhance this youthful yet enlightened production. The lighting (Ben Polya) and sound (Filipe Gomes) add magical and dramatic effects and a constant stream of additional details holds our attention – Amber Scarlett’s resourceful set design, evocative music and dance (Sonum Batra and Nour Alkawaja) and colourful costumes by Maddy Ross-Masson.

The well-chosen, multi-cultural cast poignantly reflects the rich origins of the ‘Arabian Nights’. The six actors cover a multitude of roles as well as manipulating the puppets with dexterity, allowing us to enjoy the fantasy. We not only hear of Ali Baba and Sinbad; brothers and sisters, princesses, husbands and wives, sailors, kings and queens and animals all play their part in recounting adventures, myths and morals. There are varied and vivid performances from Ikky Elyas and Maya Brittoa, Hemi Yeroham’s comic flair, Pravessh Rana’s powerful presence on stage, Izzy Jones’s portrayal as the spirited sister and a special mention for Sharon Singh as Sharazad, who elegantly holds the main plot together with the many narrative diversions.

The first half of the show takes a while to flow. Once we break through the slightly ‘theme park’ feel of the repetitive, pre-show piped music, the imitation stone of the set (from the audience’s close proximity) and the initial impact of the broad acting, we can appreciate the huge amount of thought, work and talent. It is neither a children’s show nor more suitable for adults; seemingly, it has something for everyone. And, at two and a half hours long, there is plenty of time to find it.


Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington

Photography by Ali Wright


Arabian Nights

Hoxton Hall until 13th October


Previously reviewed at this venue
Oranges & Elephants | ★★★ | January 2018
Don Juan | ★★★★ | April 2018


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The Game of Love and Chai – 3 Stars


The Game of Love and Chai

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch

Reviewed – 21st April 2018


“a fun and lively take on a traditional farce, contemporary, relevant and wittily reimagined”


“What’s so terrible about marriage?” Sita asks Rani. Raj is coming to the house, an intelligent and successful businessman, and a possible marriage prospect for Rani. But Rani isn’t convinced, so she enlists the help of her cousin Sita. They will exchange identities so that Rani can get to know the real Raj. What she hasn’t counted on is that Raj has had the same idea, and has swapped identities with his Uber driver. This is an original take on the 18th century french farce, ‘The Game of Love and Chance’ by Pierre Marivaux, which touches on love, marriage, mistaken identity and class. Adapted by Nigel Planer, he reinvents Marivaux’s play in an Asian household in modern day Britain, interspersed with Bollywood dances.

Goldy Notay as Kamala-Ji, Rani’s mother and Sita’s aunt, delivers a fantastic performance. She laughs her way around the stage, a glass of prosecco always in hand. She is always in on everyone’s plots and plays along with glee. Kiren Jogi as Sita also delivers a lovely performance, warm, genuine and immediately likeable, and the cast as a whole work well together.

Amidst the farce, the play also starts some really interesting conversations about the part class has to play within relationships, the culture of arranged marriages, and how to reconcile being independent and being in love. However, restricted by the original, these issues are not sufficiently explored and the final conclusions of the play predominantly reinforce them.

The asides worked well, as if we the audience are each characters’ confidante, however they are sometimes unclear due to the pace the production has a tendency to move at. Frustratingly, the actors perform more towards the audience than each other, which makes the connections between characters onstage appear weaker. This particularly affects the chemistry (or lack of) between Raj and Rani. On the whole, the piece is quite one note. It is overly frenetic at points, and I think some of the humour of the text is actually lost in this. Whilst the writing is funny, the slapstick visual comedy we usually see in farce is predominantly missing here and in a genre which is heavily reliant on this element, the piece suffers because of it.

Performed by a strong cast, this is a fun and lively take on a traditional farce, contemporary, relevant and wittily reimagined, and a lovely way to spend an evening.


Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Simon Annand



The Game of Love and Chai

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch


Previously at this venue
The Rope | ★★★★ | Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch | February 2018


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