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.

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

If these animals don’t make you want to achieve your dreams against all the odds, we don’t know what will.

Read more

Ant and Dec are returning with a new series of Saturday Night Takeaway.

Read more

We’re not sure exactly what she said, but we’re sure it wasn’t pretty.

Read more

Promoted content

Valentine's Day Afternoon Tea

London Hilton on Park Lane is inviting couples to celebrate this Valentines Day over a deliciously romantic afternoon tea at Podium Restaurant and Bar. Taking inspiration from the highly popular Confessions of a Chocoholic Afternoon Tea, London Hilton on Park Lane presents the ultimate romantic afternoon out with its Valentine’s Day Afternoon Tea.

Established in 1987, Tucci is one of the North's premier stores for branded clothing, footwear and accessories.

Save up to 70% on designer brands for Men and Women, including G-Star, Diesel, French Connection, Firetrap and many more….our sale is now on.

Valentine's Day in London

If you’re struggling over what to buy for the special person in your life in your life, our Valentine’s Day in London section is here to help.

Top Stories

Quizzes

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

It’s time to test your knowledge on the two London institutions: the Underground, and the boozer.

Read more
Adrian Chiles is no longer ITV's main man... so why not test your knowledge of some of his (and others') greatest gaffes? (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

With news of presenter Adrian Chiles’ sacking by ITV, it’s a good time to remember some of the most memorable punditry blunders.

Read more
[Image by Gary Tallowin]

In which we remember the stations that have gone before...

Read more