Sunday, 21 September 2014

'Albion' Bush Theatre ****

There has been a misconception within contemporary society as to what is English culture, exclusively in London where there is a multicultural civilisation, and the Bush Theatre’s newest production of Chris Thompson’s, ‘Albion’ is one that sensibly and humbly teaches us how ethnic groups should endeavour to work in good harmony. ‘Albion’, Chris Thompson’s second published piece of work is set within an East London pub called The Albion, where the many karaoke nights are taking place with youngest brother, Jayson, an early-twenties gay man is a key enthusiastic  with this medium of entertainment, is having a closely private relationship with Aashir, a mid-twenties Asian. The romance has been kept secretive due to the fact that Jayson's eldest sibling, Paul, and black friends, Kyle are both extraordinarily racist towards the Asian community, and are somewhat homophobic too. In addition to this, the pub is the unofficial home of the English Protection Army, which is governed by Paul, and assisted by Kyle because Paul and Jayson’s sister, Poppy, a soldier Poppy has been massacred and publicly lynched on the tree. Understandably, both brothers and Kyle are furious and hell-bent on revenge by instigating a protest, pleading with the government to remove the entire Asian race from Great Britain. Conversely, it appears that Jayson and Aasir’s relationship seems unaffected by this, and Aasir makes the effort by practising some karaoke to arouse Jayson's passion towards him. In contrast, the performance conveys a mayoral campaign between Paul and former social worker, Christine who believe that we should retain English values.  Their tactics to win are extremely poles apart, as Christine’s persona gives the impression of warmth and charisma, compared to Paul’s vile approach, as he is unaccepting  to changes within the English culture. Thompson's narrative is hugely compelling, as the combination of well-known karaoke favourites were ingeniously creative, as it expanded the play’s themes in comprehensive detail. The performances by the company of ‘Albion’ were enthralling throughout. Steve John Shepherd is divine as this somewhat idiosyncratic Paul. One thought he showed the prejudiced individual with incredible supremacy. Tony Clay is magnificent as Paul's young gay brother, Jayson, in particular his undying passion towards his beloveds karaoke evenings. Dharmesh Patel is beautiful as Jayson's love interest Aahir.  His determination to become confident in singing in front of everyone without any trepidation whatsoever, and the elements of love with Jayson were extremely captivating. Natalie Casey is elegantly unmatched as Christine, in particular the scenes with her former client, Leanne, and how manipulative she can be especially in her campaign to become Mayor of Tower Hamlets. Ria Parry’ direction is fetching as she has captured quite thought-provoking themes with spectacular panache, and the attention to detail through impeccable characterisation proved such amazement. James Button’s design is phenomenal as the atmosphere in the interior of The Albion has been created with increasing richness and the scenic transitions were quite flawless. Rebecca McWalter’s production carpentry is mesmerising, especially the realised bar area, as well as the other scenic components of the production. It appears that the Bush Theatre is on top form, with the popularity of the previous occupant, ‘Perseverance Drive’, as this one is on par too. In conclusion, the experience of ‘Albion’ was exceedingly pleasurable, and I'd recommend this to you.  

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