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Review: Invisible, Bush Theatre

Nikhil Parmar’s self-written solo show is the first of #Bush50 to play in the Studio at the lovely Bush Theatre. Parmar plays Zayan, a struggling actor, who bounds onto the stage accompanied by the spirit of James Bond (or at least Bond-esque music). After a couple of deliberate false starts, he tells us that he’s quite funny – and then proceeds to be really quite funny. Parmar has the audience in stitches and shows quite a talent for accents, which leads to even more amusement as he then breaks the fourth wall to apologise for the quality of his…

Summary

Rating

Good

Nikhil Parmar’s strong presence, charisma and comedy chops really deliver.

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Nikhil Parmar’s self-written solo show is the first of #Bush50 to play in the Studio at the lovely Bush Theatre. Parmar plays Zayan, a struggling actor, who bounds onto the stage accompanied by the spirit of James Bond (or at least Bond-esque music). After a couple of deliberate false starts, he tells us that he’s quite funny – and then proceeds to be really quite funny. Parmar has the audience in stitches and shows quite a talent for accents, which leads to even more amusement as he then breaks the fourth wall to apologise for the quality of his accents.

We learn a lot about Zayan, his life and his career. He had a fleeting moment of fame, or notoriety, with a role in a chicken advert and he is still stopped on the street by children wanting to recreate this. He does not, however, consider that to be his finest moment. His former partner and mother of his daughter has a new partner, a rival from RADA who has just landed a lead in a BBC/HBO production. Zadan involves the audience in his story by addressing them very directly, and at a couple of points a spectator is carefully handed a mimed baby – though more care seems to be taken with the drink in hand (fair dues…)!

Suffice it to say, Zayan is not thrilled with his current lot in life and just has no motivation to find or attend any auditions. As a result of this and his experience of everyday racism, which includes moments where he is literally invisible to others, there is quite a dark turn in the story. The comedy takes a conspicuous shift and it’s hard to follow for a short time. This turn is rather sudden; almost out of nowhere, and when the play then gallops forward, I was left trying to catch up and absolutely missed a couple of lines. Some of the jokes took a second to percolate among the audience, and delayed reactions landed around me to large laughs. There is a lot to be said for smart jokes that take a moment to hit, so attention to pacing that allows them a moment would be helpful.

The sound by Bella Kear is great, from the music to the effects throughout, with doorbells and restarts (deliberate) being quite funny. Set design by Georgia Wilmot combined simply and effectively with lighting by Laura Howerd, to show multiple locations, from a front door to a hospital room.

This is an interesting and entertaining perspective on one man’s struggle against everyday racism. It counters the invisibility that can be engendered by using dark humour to generate substance. Parmar’s strong presence, charisma and comedy chops really deliver through the first half and with a couple more tweaks to the second half, it could be really great show.

Written by: Nikhil Parmar
Directed by: Georgia Green
Design by: Georgia Wilmot
Lighting Design by: Laura Howard

Invisible plays at Bush Theatre until 16 July. Further information and bookings can be found here.

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About Dave B

Originally from Dublin but having moved around a lot, Dave moved to London, for a second time, in 2018. He works for a charity in the Health and Social Care sector. He has a particular interest in plays with an Irish or New Zealand theme/connection - one of these is easier to find in London than the other! Dave made his (somewhat unwilling) stage debut via audience participation on the day before Covid lockdowns began. He believes the two are unrelated but is keen to ensure no further audience participation... just to be on the safe side.