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A Passage To India - Park Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India vividly re-imagined by award-winning ensemble simple8, in a co-production with Royal & Derngate, Northampton, runs at Park Theatre from February 20 to March 24, 2018.

How can we love each other in a world divided by race, power and religion?

This question at the heart of A Passage to India challenges us today just as it did a hundred years ago. With their new adaptation of Forster’s masterpiece and a diverse company of fourteen, simple8 finds in the past a mirror for our own divided times, carefully re-imagining this ground-breaking novel for contemporary Britain.

Multi-award-winning simple8 create worlds out of nothing. Rooted in “poor theatre”, this ensemble company creates all atmosphere and setting without extravagant costumes, scenery, props or recorded sound, producing dynamic plays that tackle big ideas.

This new approach to Forster’s masterpiece will transport their audience to British India, conjuring up its elephants and trains, courthouses and temples – and the mysterious Marabar Caves – with the simplest of means.

Delighting in spectacle but dispensing with nostalgia and clutter, the production focuses instead on the novel’s beating heart. A Passage to India argues that friendship in a world divided is not possible “yet”; the natural question for us today is: “Is it possible now?”

simple8 seek to address this question in the form of the production itself, the entire spectacle providing a powerful image of different people working together to tell a story, using nothing but their shared imagination.

A Passage to India is adapted and co-directed by Simon Dormandy, whose recent directing work includes co-directing his own adaptation of the Coen Brothers’ film The Hudsucker Proxy (Nuffield, Southampton/Liverpool Playhouse), and directing Julius Caesar (Bristol Old Vic), Luce (Southwark Playhouse) and Waiting for Godot (Arcola Theatre).

Original music is composed and performed live by Kuljit Bhamra MBE, one of the most prolific musicians, composers and producers on the British Asian music scene, having composed and produced over 2000 songs and worked on film scores including A Winter of Love and Bend it Like Beckham. On stage, he has appeared in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Bombay Dreams (Apollo Victoria Theatre) and Bend it Like Beckham (Phoenix Theatre) which he also co-orchestrated.

The cast features Liz Crowther (The Witch of Edmonton, RSC) as Mrs Moore/Ralph, Matthew Douglas (An Inspector Calls, West End) as Callendar, Christopher Doyle (The Playboy of the Western World, Old Vic) as McBryde, Hannah Emanuel (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Arcola Theatre) as Mrs Callendar/Stella, Tibu Fortes (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Globe Theatre) as Hamidullah, Richard Goulding (King Charles III, Almeida/West End/Broadway) as Fielding, Nigel Hastings (Henry VI, Globe Theatre) as Turton, Asif Khan (Handbagged, UK Tour) as Aziz, Edward Killingback (Hay Fever, West End) as Ronny, Ranjit Krishnamma (Behind the Beautiful Forevers, National Theatre) as Godbole/Das, Phoebe Pryce (The Tempest, Globe Theatre) as Adela and Maanuv Thiara (Hamlet, Harold Pinter Theatre) as Mahmoud Ali.

Music is performed live by Kuljit Bhamra MBE and Asha McCarthy.

A Passage to India is co-directed by Simon Dormandy and Sebastian Armesto, who has co-directed and co-written all of simple8’s productions to date. The production is designed by Dora Schweitzer, with lighting design by Prema Mehta.

A Passage to India is suitable for ages 7+.

Tickets: Previews £18.50, Tuesday to Thursday and Saturday matinees Standard £20 – £29.50, Concessions £18.50 – £22, Child £15, Young Patrons £10 (February 20 – 27). To book, call the box office on 020 7870 6876 or visit www.parktheatre.co.uk/.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday evenings at 7.45pm, Thursday and Saturday matinees at 3.15pm.

Read more about Park Theatre’s new season.