EM Forster’s novel, published 1924, sensibly depicts the convoluted relationship between the British and the Indians in India before the First World War; in its final moments Forster’s omniscient narration encourages his readers to speculate such a union. The co-directorship of Simon Dormandy and Sebastian Armesto in this modern adaption, steers us through the oppressive heat and magnitude of colonial rule. Although fit for contemporary Britain, this is achived with a more comedic and light-hearted undercurrent. In this stage production, the multi-award winning ensemble, simple8, transport the audience to imperial India. Raw silk, packing crates and a textured screen, complimented by Kuljit Bhamra’s live music, conjured up the elephants, caves and courthouses with delicacy.

Dormandy’s programme notes advice that the minimalist approach has been taken with design style intentions. It’s clear, because of this, the focus is on the relationship between characters rather than period or milieu. It can be noted that’s this makes it harder to justify reasons for events and dialogue between certain characters, almost detracting some of moral worth Forster had focused so heavily on. Despite this, it’s rich humanity with attention to external stimulus, balances this, enabling the audience to re-imagine some of the pivoting moments at the heart of Marabar caves.

Asif Khan is an enormously engaging Aziz, his exuberant energy and comical connection with the audience, dilute the darker themes of the plot. His gentle and tender relationship with Richard Goulding’s Fielding is sensitively conveyed. Liz Crowther should be applauded for her terrific performance as Mrs Moore, elevating the dynamic between members of the cast. Overall, this collaboration of creatives brings a compelling journey of the hardships of a world divided by culture and belief.

Saranya Umashankar 

Rosebery School