Review by Esmee Agboola-West
Vinay Patel’s An Adventure leaves no stone unturned in unpacking the frustrations of reality against two people building a dream.
This three-act play is truly a cross-continental journey of hope, spanning from one night in 1954 to the present day. Amongst a choice of five men, Jyoti (Anjana Vasan) takes a punt on marrying Rasik (Shubham Saraf), who swears to offer her something money can’t buy; the chance to learn, to be encouraged to think for herself and, overwhelmingly, the promise of an adventure. Throughout the story, we see the growth of their relationship, against the socio-political frustrations of post-Partition India, Mau Mau Kenya, and 1970s London.
The first act opens with a warm, romantic ‘head in the clouds’ kind of energy between the two characters. It is this energy that enables us to first appreciate a strong connection between them, which keeps us on the edge of their dialogue for the entire play. One of the best-directed scenes comes in this act when Jyoti convinces Rasik to join her swimming. Here, we see the extent of the trust between them through a perfectly understated movement sequence. Unfortunately, the play does lose this pace at points during the second and third acts, although, they essentially draw our attention to the political challenges of the times.
As always, Vinay Patel’s writing is full of an underlying tension which exposes important ideas concerning our modern day. We see this particularly in the writing of the character, David (Martins Imhangbe), who maintains a strong socio-political consciousness throughout. He delivers lines such as, “A black body on a white screen. It’s my problem whether I’m looking for it or not,” allowing our attention to be drawn to how accurately this writing can represent ongoing racial prejudice and stigmatisation. Likewise, there is a subtext in the writing that spotlights Jyoti as a character whose dreams are compromised for the agenda of her husband, although, she seems to remain a vocal, confident woman throughout. It is through such well-written characters that these complex, messy relationship dynamics are able to surface.
In the play’s final moments, Jyoti and Rasik reflect on whether their adventure had been worth it. They consider what these ‘dreams’ have cost them and speculate about their naïve pursuit of adventure. Although the execution of this scene felt slightly off, this a beautifully placed ending for a play that aside from love, family and adventure, celebrates hope. There is something unique to be learned from this story.
An Adventure is on until 20 October at Bush Theatre