Pros: The excellent acting makes this into an arresting and exciting show.
Cons: The informal storytelling setting was not the full-on show that I expected.
Premiering 70 years after India gained its independence, this beautiful work by poet Siddhartha Bose features both fictional and true tales of British colonialism and Indian heritage. No Dogs, No Indians makes its London debut as part of Southbank Centre’s Alchemy Festival – a festival that celebrates the creative and cultural connection between South Asia and the United Kingdom.
In three intertwining stories, we follow a timeline spanning from 1932 via the 1970s to the present. The entire performance is informally narrated by Archana Ramaswamy, who also plays the roles of Durga and Kalpana. She introduces each of the stories and with an interactive monologue, she dives in with the audience as we see the actors transform into their characters.
We are introduced to the story in the present day, where a young man played by Ashraf Ejjbair returns to the New India with the tragic news of his father’s death. Meanwhile life has transformed and become much more commercialised and free, and the young man suffers as he is exposed to drugs, a taboo-free lifestyle and money.
Shortly after the story takes us to the 1970s, where we meet an ambitious actor in post-independence Kolkata, who is in love with everything British – spanning from Shakespeare to The Beatles to cricket. He gets thrown into a world of doubt, and his relationship and career are put on the line as he struggles with his confusion.
The third story is the most heartbreaking: in occupied Bengal, a young rebel named Rani, played by Komal Amin, is thrown into despair as she prepares to invade a ‘whites only’ club in Chittagong – an act that we learn will end in her death.
With the support of Omar Khan, the four actors deliver a performance that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Whether this show is your first introduction to Indian history, heritage and culture, or you’re already well-versed in the subject, No Dogs, No Indians will surprise and satisfy you.
Author: Siddhartha Bose
Director: Russell Bender
Producer: Penned in the Margins
Booking Information: This show has now completed its run.