Rafta, Rafta – June 2007


By: Ayub Khan-Din, based on All In Good Time by Bill Naughton

Directed by: Nicholas Hytner

Venue: Lyttelton Theatre

Date: Tuesday 6th June 2007

This was based on an English play from quite a while ago, and has been really well adapted. I was mildly concerned that so many attitudes that we consider old-fashioned in mainstream British culture seem to be easily expressed by transferring them to modern-day Asian communities. I also noted the unusual number of Asians in the audience, and it seemed a pity that it takes a production like this to get them coming to the theatre, especially as the whole point of this play seems to be how much ground we have in common. However.

A young couple have to live with his parents after their marriage, until they can get a place of their own. As they don’t have a honeymoon, their attempts to consummate their relationship are hampered by the close proximity of the rest of the family, especially the father (Harish Patel). He’s a larger-than life character, who came to Britain many years ago, and worked hard to establish himself and bring his wife over as well. He’s the domineering sort, always having to be right, but with a good heart and a lot of kindness, when it can be brought out of him. His wife (Meera Syal), is more sympathetic, and appreciates the difficulties the couple are having, but even she doesn’t realise how long it’s taking them to get down to it. It takes some strong confrontations and a row to get them into bed and shagging, and there are lots of comedy opportunities along the way, together with some not-too-surprising revelations.

The set was interesting. At the beginning, as we sat down, there was a screen across the front of the stage, showing a view of a terraced street. As the play started, a couple of lads walked onto the street, and into one of the doors. Behind the screen, the set then began to revolve, as the front door turned towards the right, and the sitting room and kitchen came into view. The screen then rose, and we had an unimpeded view of the house, including the two bedrooms upstairs which would see most of the inaction. I liked this very much.

The performances were excellent, again. It took a while to sort out which character is which, and who’s married to whom, and I also took some time to get used to the accents. Some of the characters spoke with Indian accents, some with Lancashire accents, and some flip-flopped between, as often happens within multi-lingual groups. There was a great sense of family life, of the difficulties any young couple can feel in establishing themselves, and I enjoyed it enormously. I would certainly be interested in anything else this chap writes.

© 2007 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me