Reviewed on Tuesday 24th February 2015
In a world of UKIP and media bombardment of the 'Muslim threat', Multitudes comes at the perfect time to make comment, but I am not sure what that comment is meant to be.
John Hollingworth's debut full length play focuses on a fictional Conservative Party conference held in Labour dominant Bradford, in what seems to be the not too distant future. Kash, a liberal British Muslim prepares his address to politicians on the state of the nation as his angst-filled teenage daughter Qadira plans a radical intervention, culminating in the inevitable second act scene of disastrous consequences. The centring on one family, which also includes a recent Islamic convert girlfriend and her outspoken Nigel Farrage-esque, flag waving mother, is a clever device to focus an enormous subject into a relatable language.
Navin Chowdhry's Nash, does well in the role of the desperate politician and neglectful partner but really shines in the final few scenes where we get to see the real vulnerability of a man torn between two worlds. The two star turns of the play come from Jacqueline King and Asif Khan. King's middle class, crazed conservative Lyn, provides some of the comical highlights with lines such as “While we're watching Saturday Kitchen Live and getting our bits from M&S and indulging down the gastropub there's an army of people - shunning our lifestyle", whilst turning a mirror onto the very scary reality of UKIP in Britain, but it is Khan's completely useless but lovable Imtiaz who steals the show.
Indhu Rubasingham's slick directing keeps the pace of the piece whizzing along, allowing only to slow down in order to create moments of carefully selected silence. Richard Kent's stylish yet simple design works perfectly, moving from location to location without ever feeling repetitive or clunky.
Throughout the play there are conversations and arguments about the West's views of the Middle East, but it often seems a little one sided and pretty repetitive. With a subject as complex and rich as this it often feels like Hollingworth is treading lightly instead of getting into the real nitty gritty of the subject matter. That said, he provides enough to start a conversation and puts it across in a very entertaining manner.
There is no doubt that this is a writer to keep an eye on and although Multitudes is flawed as a play, it still has a lot to say and provides a thoughtful and entertaining evening.
By Harry Richards
Multitudes runs at the Tricycle Theatre until Saturday 21st March 2015.
Please visit www.tricycle.co.uk for further information and tickets.
Photo Credit: Mark Douet