Theatre review: Baba Shakespeare at the Arcola Tent

19:09 23 April 2012

Baba Shakespeare at the Arcola Tent

Baba Shakespeare at the Arcola Tent

Archant

India beautifully evoked with flamboyant dancing, mime and puppetry in play about touring theatre troupe

The spirit of India pervaded the Arcola Tent, even if her sultry climes didn’t. I wasn’t the only person desperately trying to thaw my feet in front of the warm air vent at the intermission. But the fact that nobody walked out at half time despite the severe discomfort of the benches and the bone-seeping cold is testament surely to the captivating world of the play.

Baba Shakespeare is the story of a troupe of British actors travelling around India in the early 60s with their repertoire of Shakespeare plays. But at a time when Bollywood is really taking off is there still a place for theatre in India or is it time for the Brits to go home?

The exoticism and colour of the Asian subcontinent are beautifully exploded onto the stage with flamboyant Indian dancing, mime and puppetry. The dances, choreographed by Coronation Street’s Sunita (Shobna Gulati,) juxtapose cleverly with the stoicism of the Shakespearean plays in all their Elizabethan majesty.

There are some wonderful performances by peripheral actors - Bob Hough is absorbing as the sad old actor and Janet South gets a lot of laughs as prim hotelier Mrs Bowen. But most of the other funny lines don’t quite work and there is an uncomfortable amount of dead time as actors, expecting laughter, are slightly stumped at the lack of audience reaction.

Nevertheless, this is a delightful play and a nostalgic portrayal of India just as she was coming into her own. Just remember your thermals.

* Baba Shakespeare is at Arcola Tent, in Ashwin Street, E8, until May 2.

Latest Stories

Police have released a CCTV still of the man wanted after a gunpoint robbery at Charlton Lido in July (Picture: Metropolitan Police)

The moment a man walked in to Charlton Lido with a gun to commit an armed robbery has been released by police who want to track down the suspect.

Read more
The man was found with a stab wound and bite marks on Wanstead Flats (Picture: PA Images/Stefan Rousseau)

Two teenage girls have been arrested after a man was found stabbed and bitten on Wanstead Flats by firefighters called to put out a grass fire.

Read more
15 minutes ago
Perhaps the robber thought London Fashion Week had come early? (Photo by Nicky J Sims/Getty Images)

A man who disguised himself with make-up before he held up travel agents with a gun has been found guilty of robbery.

Read more

Top Stories

Promotions

Advanced running and training technology for beginners up to elite athletes

If you’re thinking of adding running treadmill to your fitness routine, you’re on the right track! There are several advantages to running on a treadmill versus running outdoors.

Renault-Zoe

The Renault ZOE follows on from the introduction of the electric Fluence ZE and Twizy, but unlike the former, the ZOE was designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle.

When no simple way to find Real Ale was at hand, 4 Ale enthusiasts got together to allow anyone with a smart phone to find Real Ale no matter where they happened to be, this was the birth of the Perfect Pint app.

Quizzes

Do you fancy yourself as a football ground know-it-all? Try our devilishly difficult quiz!

How well do you know your football stadiums? This brand new quiz from London24 will seperate the men from the boys...

Read more
Do you know your Thames truths from the porkie pies? (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

So, you live (or work) in London, and you think you know the river well.

Read more
Diego Costa of Chelsea exchanges words with Cesc Fabregas (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)

Chelsea have made several personnel changes over the course of the summer as they look to mount a squad that can challenge for the title.

Read more