Lions and Tigers at the Sam Wanamaker PlayhouseCultureTheatre
Amidst the dim candlelight of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, a bright new play emerges: Lions and Tigers, a personal telling of India’s independence movement through the eyes of the writer’s great uncle, Dinesh Gupta.
Tanika Gupta’s script cleverly blends iconic historical moments in India’s history, like Ghandi’s Salt March, with an immersive tale-telling style, conjuring within the audience laughter and joy, but also revulsion and enlightenment.
Unlike many stories depicting the British Empire, Lions and Tigers is imbued with the vibrancy, colour and movement that make theatre a joy to watch. It is the contrast against itself that makes its potency the more real. The dialogue is partly playful and witty yet direct and deeply philosophical; the movements are alive and electric yet at times purposefully bare – even the story itself, in parts magnificently depicting family virtues, and others tortuously hinged upon an act of murder.
This profoundly entertaining show is accompanied with music played by Arun Ghosh and Sarathy Korwar, who cleverly use the intimate space to brighten the drama with many culturally appropriate instruments. Standout acting performances from Raj Bajaj, Shalini Peiris and Shubham Saraf make the piece emotionally accessible, lining the philosophical notions with a human understanding of them. And the writing of Gupta, partly borrowed from letters and accounts from history and partly her own masterful skill, is the thread that is weaved throughout this entire theatrical tapestry.
There is one distinction to be made about this play that makes it unique. Underneath the vibrancy and vitality of Indian culture, Lions and Tigers is a philosophical workhorse. The way this work disguises potent themes like self-worth, martyrdom, sacrifice and violence isn’t just clever, it is downright genius. And it is this facet that is the hallmark of a worthy piece of theatre, for it allows the senses to be dazzled and the mind to be stimulated.
Photo: Marc Brenner
Lions and Tigers is at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse from 23rd August until 16th September 2017. For further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for Lions and Tigers here: