The North Wall’s production Brown Boys Swim is set in Oxford, where best friends Kash (Varun Raj) and Mohsen (Anish Roy) have been invited to a party hosted by the cool girl of the school, Jess Denver. However, it being a pool party the two have realised they have an issue, as neither can swim.
Director John Hoggarth then takes us on their journey to learn how, inbetween chats in the changing room, cold showers and leaping into the water. We see a public swimming pool magnetically come to life, with the sounds of splashing and scenes broken up by energetic techno music and dance.
We watch a brother-like connection unfold, as the two reveal a pool of doubt consuming them due to the trials and tribulations of being a muslim boy growing up in a partly Islamaphobic world. They compare their experiences to those of other races, relating situations where they have been unjustly pigeonholed as drug dealers, been watched by the police and unfairly searched before entering the pool. It makes the audience bubble up with anger as we watch the truth of racial discrimination.
Acted beautifully by Raj and Roy, we learn how the two characters have taken different approaches to their prejudice. One has decided to take the more conventional route – to apply to Oxford and accept the imbalance. The other is more fiery, chasing his dreams outside the small-town world he sees himself living in. As the play develops we seesaw between which one is right.
Karim Khan’s writing examines a topic that urgently needs to be brought to the shallow end, as it explores the pressures faced by young brown boys, and the consequences of racial injustice. This is a moving coming of age story, brimming with heart, soul and humour.
Written by: Karim Khan
Directed by: John Hoggarth
Movement Direction by: Sita Thomas
Set and Costume design by: James Button
Assistant Direction by: Amelia Thornber
Produced by Ria Parry on behalf of North Wall
Brown Boys Swim plays at Pleasance Dome daily at 2.30pm until 28 August (except 15 August). Further information and bookings can be found here.