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Review: A Passage to India, at Park Theatre, Park 200

Simon Dormandy’s atmospheric adaptation strives to put a new spin on EM Forster’s well-known story

01 March, 2018 — By Catherine Usher

Liz Crowther as Mrs Moore in A Passage to India. Photo: Idil Sukan

MAKING full use of a comparatively large cast and minimal sets, this production of A Passage To India thrusts the characters and their opinions to the fore.

There’s a marked contrast between the attitude Ronny’s mother Mrs Moore and potential wife-to-be Adela have towards colonial India and his own. While they are inquisitive and excited, he is dismissive and cynical.

The women stand out among the arrogant British men who talk down to any Indians they come into contact with and, in turn, the Indians display the effects of being distrusted and patronised.

Among his peers, Richard Goulding’s Fielding is also uncommon in his peace-loving, affable disposition and Goulding portrays his subtle gentleness with ease.

Edward Killingback (Ronny) and Phoebe Pryce (Adela). Photo: Idil Sukan

Asif Khan is equally endearing as the cheerful (at least initially) Aziz, while Liz Crowther’s Mrs Moore is funny and open. Expertly brought to life by Crowther, she navigates the spectrum of attitudes diplomatically, yet mostly manages to do as she pleases.

Simple8’s focus is firmly on the characters – the use of props and indeed sets are sparse, but the way an elephant ride is created by some lifting, sticks and well-placed fabric is particularly striking.

Simon Dormandy’s adaptation strives to put a new spin on a well-known story, so those unfamiliar with EM Forster’s novel (or the 1984 film) risk being confused at times by the stylised version of events.

Evocative music performed by Kuljit Bhamra heightens the atmosphere, but the dancing, chanting, masks and metaphors may leave some lost in the darkness of the Marabar Caves.

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