True Brits

Theatre, Fringe
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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Intriguing if predictable monologue about the lot of British Asians post-7/7.

On a minimal set strewn with detritus suggesting the morning after the night before stands Rahul (David Mumeni). He’s a young British Asian lad who we meet in 2005 as a puppyish 18 year old, and then as a withdrawn 25 year old, nursing a mysteriously wounded hand – the obligatory Big Secret that will be revealed at the end of young writer Vinay Patel’s monologue.

‘True Brits’ is a boisterous coming-of-age tale that takes a more probing turn when it becomes apparent that 7/7 is shortly going to hove into view. When it does, Rahul suddenly finds his previously unquestioned place in mainstream British society challenged in a country suddenly suspicious of men with his skin colour. Patel argues – and maybe it’s an obvious argument, but Mumeni’s Rahul is a skilful, human vessel – that making a group of people feel like they’re not an equal part of society can easily be more dangerous than letting them live their lives, and it can breed the sort of disaffection that leads to extremism.

That’s not what happens to Rahul. But we sense the pressures put on him, and what an unpleasant, even damaging experience sudden social ostracism – even at a low level – must be for a young man growing up.

‘True Brits’ cleaves to monologue convention to a slightly enervating degree: you can always see exactly where it’s going. And there’s some clunking details in there, notably the repeated references to Rahul being a Blur fan, which feel forced and perhaps even a little improbable (it strikes me as unlikely that they were big with schoolkids in 2005). But Patel is a young playwright, and ‘True Brits’ is a very fair effort – hard to go nuts for, but difficult to dismiss.

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