The General Election is fast approaching us, and within Britain’s multi-cultural society, a play about an election campaign, where the candidate is a British Asian seems very appropriate to inform us of the importance of having your voices heard. The Tricycle Theatre’s production of John Hollingworth’s debut play, ‘Multitudes’ is an educational and thought-provoking story that questions how society connects with one another, as well as, the performances were well characterised.
‘Multitudes’ is set in Bradford where Kash, a liberal British Muslim is preparing to address politicians about the state of the country. Kash’s girlfriend, Natalie, a white British woman, who has now converted to the Islamic rules and regulations as it’s essential for her to do so. Conversely, Natalie’s mother, Lyn is unhappy with her daughter’s religious conversion and laments about anyone who will not bother to listen about the decline of English culture. On the other hand, out of respect to her daughter, she tries to support Kash’s campaign in the best possible way that she can., but she is still despondent by those seeking asylum in the United Kingdom who do not want to work for their freedom by the government. At this moment, there is a radical anti-war protest in Bradford, and annoyingly for Kash, Natalie is cooking elaborate meals for them, which is not helpful for Kash’s endeavours. Kash’s daughter, Quadira (Salma Haque) finds it immensely difficult to comprehend why her religious beliefs and race are being ridiculed, and decides to plan a drastic intervention where her father’s political message will be interrupted with a terrorist attack. The major challenge is the relationship between Natalie and Lyn as Lyn’s opinions about the Muslim religion is immeasurably adverse and slightly racist, and her frequent belittling of Kash’s culture causes Natalie to throw a glass of wine in her face and this instance amuses Quadira as she dislikes the white British lifestyle. Kash and Natalie’s relationship is fraught as Quadira succeeds in her quest for radical terrorism, and it is revealed that Natalie knew of her plan without informing Kash. Hollingworth’s narrative is effective as he has crafted a scenario that delves into the themes of identity and faith, however, it feels that he has tried to squeeze too much into a space of two hours which makes certain scenes to appear too under-developed and unpolished.
One found the performances by the company of, ‘Multitudes’ were abundant within the pace and the energy of the character portrayals. Claire Calbraith is agreeable as Islamic converter, Natalie; principally when you see her striving to learn the ways how Muslims live their lives such as the prayer rituals and hymns. Navin Chowdhy is tolerable as aspiring MP, Kash; mainly when we see him pressurised by his political advisors Sam (Maya Sondhi) and Julian (Asif Khan) to not communicate with those protesting as it might be seen to the constituents that he is in favour of their means of gripe. Jacqueline King is convention as Natalie’s mother, Lyn; especially when she drunkenly offends Kash about his true identity and states that he is not a true British person as he was not born in the country and demands that he should not have a say in how the country is managed.
Indhu Rabasingham’s direction is brilliant as she has compressed Hollingworth’s speedy plot to enhance how a difference of opinions in terms of pure English culture and the horrendous actions implanted by radical extremists will inevitably cause tension. Richard Kent’s design is splendid as the dark and meagre nature of Quadira’s quest to total destruction makes me question the teachings of the Muslim religion and why they have not progressed where everyone is equal. Overall, the experience of ‘Multitudes’ was an fitting production about the changes of English culture.