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How To Make A Killing In Bollywood

Umar Butt & Manjoy Sumal
Bijli Productions
New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich

The New Wolsey’s 19th Pulse Festival is about half way through now and there’s been a range of performances from scratch shows to fully formed productions previewing before an Edinburgh Fringe run.

How To Make a Killing in Bollywood comes with quite a pedigree. The company was founded by writer Mariem Omari and director Umar Ahmed, who in turn have had their own individual measure of success both abroad and in the UK. Their collaboration has been nationally recognised for its ground-breaking approach to the creation of physical verbatim theatre and their authentic representation of the diversity of the Scottish community. And they are Company in Residence at the National Theatre of Scotland.

For all that, How to Make a Killing does not start off very promisingly, with a rather skittish one-man opening introduction to the audience by Adam Buksh. However, once he is joined by the other three actors (co-writers Butt and Sumar plus Jessica Lucie Andrade), who take to the stage with an opening Bollywood dance piece, the production comes alive and we are transported to a Asian family takeaway where out of work Scottish-Asian actor Raza persuades his best friend Gurjit to travel to Mumbai with him in a last ditch attempt to follow his dream to become a Bollywood actor.

Combining dance, physical theatre and storytelling, this is an interesting, well directed, well executed piece that begins as quite humorous but becomes darker as the story unfolds. Exploring the themes of being caught between two cultures, and at what price should you follow your dreams, this is a piece that draws you in and makes you think as well as entertaining with some great dance sequences and with Adam Buksh entertainingly playing a range of quirky characters .

As the drama unfolds, it is obvious that Raza is too white for Mumbai as he had been too Asian for the Scottish theatre industry, but when his friend gets the call back he was hoping for, and Raza gets involved with a street girl looking for a ticket out of the slums, it is hard to see how this story can end happily. Even so, the rather tragic twist at the end comes as a surprise.

A very entertaining and thought-provoking production.

Reviewer: Suzanne Hawkes