It’s the middle of the recession, and twentysomething Rehaan and thirtysomething Karim are trying to make a living selling fruit on the multicultural and occasionally hostile Harlesden High Street. While Ammi, who is in her fifties and has seen the city change over many years, is waiting for an eye operation, which can only be funded if Rehaan, her son, can make enough money.
The three Pakistani immigrant protagonists of Abhishek Majumdar’s new play lead fairly gloomy existences. But the writing balances this with a sense of hope, primarily in Ammi’s speeches.
Spoken with great grace by Sakuntala Ramanee, they recall the dusty earth and heat of Pakistan and the cold snow of London. For her, as for the other two, both of these places inspire a sense of belonging, while at the same time, neither place is truly home.
The play never really gets to the heart of their situation, though. More of a performance poem than a plot-driven drama, there’s not enough focus on a message – the imagery is nice, but it’s just too vague.
That said, there are some strong moments within the production, including Holly Seager’s set designs: a series of fruit crates which become the seats of a bus, a market stall and a shelter from the rain. There is live music too, including from a sitar player, which adds atmosphere and rhythm and Rosie Jones’s video projections of Harlesden are particularly evocative.
By Daisy Bowie-Sell