Pros: Abundance of fun!
Cons: Not for you if you prefer not to be a part of the action.
Tara Arts Theatre was recently redeveloped and, after winning Project Design of the Year at the 2016 London Construction Awards, it opened its doors this Autumn. The newly designed space is a timber heaven with an intimate stage, comfortable seats, cosy outside space and beautifully detailed interior.
Bollywood Jack tells a familiar story of a young boy in love, who is trying to help his family come out of a financial crisis and simultaneously trying to save his girl by using a set of magic beans. We witness a Bollywood twist on a story set in one of London’s very own neighbourhoods, Earlsfield.
Farrukh Dhondy does an incredible job of writing a piece of theatre that is both relevant and entertaining (Brexit jokes done right for a change). Jatinder Verma directs the cast of five talented actors, who bring pure joy to the stage.
Ralph Birtwell, Sohm Kapila, Adam Samuel-Bal, Shala Nyx and Aria Prasad engage with the audience in an easy-going way. The fact that the theatre is so intimate makes the actors’ job a bit harder, as they cannot break out of character even for a second. My eyes were focused on all of their faces and the dedication and passion that they showed to their characters was admirable.
Claudia Mayer designed the beautiful set and costumes, which was one of the things that impressed me the most. Every single costume is incredibly detailed (look out for Moomoo and Wify’s in particular) and this subtly helps add more character to the story.
My favourite thing about pantomimes is the audience participation, although it has to be done in the right way. It is a difficult job to make a bunch of adults sing and dance along, unless you are Sohm Kapila, who plays Zak. When she asked the audience to join her in a dance and sing along, I was one of many who joyfully put my hands up and sang along to the ‘Bean Song’.
Ralph Birtwell, the beloved Dame Mrs Moowallah or ‘Ma’, plays a pivotal role in carrying the cast, like any good mother would. Entertaining, lively and absolutely hilarious, Birtwell manages to pull you in from the very beginning of the performance and, effortlessly, makes you not forget to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ every time he comes on stage.
The three-man band, which is cleverly situated on top of the stage, brings the story to life with a musical accompaniment that impresses you from the very start of the performance.
If you are lucky enough, there is a cameo performance by The Mayor of Wandsworth Councillor Richard Field – make sure to check out which dates this is happening on the website.
One of the liveliest performances I have seen in a while, Bollywood Jack certainly leaves you wanting more. It is a joyful show and something your little ones can enjoy too! You have one month to go and be entertained – do not miss out!
Writer: Farrukh Dhondy
Director: Jatinder Verma
Box Office: 020 8333 4457
Booking Link: https://www.tara-arts.com/whats-on/bollywood-jack
Booking Until: 7 January 2017