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below is a list of Ashanti Dhawan's plays - click on a Play Title for more information
It's ingeniously simple. They perform twice over the weekend: each performance features four short scenes of fights, all of them beginning verbally and becoming physical. at the start of the show every audience member is given four simple coloured paper hats. Before each scene begins we are introduced via the booming Pa system to each of the characters it will involve - they strut onto stage, pose and flex and grimace like Mickey Rourke, and we don a hat of a certain colour to "cast our vote" on that particular character coming out on top. Of course this is before we know anything about the nature of each fight, so it's interesting in theory to wonder what makes us side with one character over another purely on first glance. Do the women go for the women? Do we back the scrawnier man to try and predict the unpredictable? Which of the nuns looks the most muscular? as it is though, there are few easily apparent trends. all our attention really is focused on screaming out our support of whoever we have arbitrarily chosen to back. This is theatre for closet wrestling fans, quite excessively happy to suddenly be encouraged to watch drama and make noise. as an experience it's infectious - but I fear not to be too often repeated, as only certain contexts allow it to work. I also wonder how long before the concept becomes stale - once you have seen it I doubt you'd feel the need to experience it again - unless the company push it in a new direction. In summary, we have two nuns attending a school reunion and discovering that their schoolmate of the time, who inspired both of their religious conversions, now views them with contempt. a man tries to hastily get rid of a woman after a one-night-stand, but his girlfriend bursts in on them. a jilted boyfriend challenges his ex-girlfriend's new lover to a fight to win her, which he will video for her to prove his devotion. But the final scene has an unexpected spike. Two old friends, one gay one straight, emerge from a gay club late at night, the straight one distraught having broken up with his girlfriend, and in a moment of drunken confusion makes a sexual advance on his friend. The ensuing fracas is him being fought off by his friend, who is trying only to beat sense into him. There's no-one for us to cheer for, the emotions of the piece are too true to make for easy side-taking. and the ending is horrifically unexpected and downbeat. We stop shouting long enough to think about what we have been doing. It's a canny achievement. But for all that, the show overall is too enjoyable for us not to emerge with smiles all over our faces. Guilty though they may be.
- Corinne Salisbury, British Theatre Guide
Writers include John Donnelly, Ashanti Dhawan, Matt Hartley, Joel Horwood, Phil Porter, Penelope Skinner
East End Pub, London 2009
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