Theatre reviews

When Amar Met Jay - Haymarket Theatre (Studio), Leicester

"Meet Amar Singh Johal, born and bred in India. Living here for the last 25 years, some would say he's never left his precious homeland at all. His views, his ideas and that wafer thin moustache have changed little over time. His friends often joke that there's a "Made in India" sign stamped on his backside. But Amar Singh doesn't care - well he didn't, until he met Jay..."

Alright, so I've read the synopsis provided online and in the press release, as I see it this is a love story - Amar Singh Johal, meets his beloved Jay and they fall in love. Sounds quite funny, I think this is going to be a bit of a laugh. So armed with this picture of what to expect, I proceed to Leicester's Haymarket Theatre on a grey and dreary Wednesday to catch the press night of this 'modern romance', at least I might get a glass of wine at the interval!

The production is a joint venture on this occasion with the Haymarket Theatre (Leicester) and has been written and directed by Steve Nijjar, who I later discover also plays the role of Jay - so that's my preconceived idea of tonight's production out of the window. So as I take my seat on the bench like seats here in the studio theatre, my eyes are met with the sparsest of set designs (a settee and park bench, situated back to back) and I have no idea of what I'm to expect.

Intimate is the 'key-word' here as the tiny auditorium fills to the rafters, literally with theatre goers keen to catch this 'home-bred' production and as tonight's entertainment gets underway it is clear that the romance that is about to unfold is not between our two lead roles. A story that represents the two sides present within the Indian society, is the hilarious narrative that unfolds, but one that could just as easily be represented in any culture. The issue of 'inner racism' is told well here, along with the gritty reality of arranged marriages and the generation gap.

A play that made a thoroughly entertaining evening, was one that I drew many comparisons from, however thin, from 'East Is East' to elements of 'Buddha Of Suburbia' and more. The young Steve Nijjar is one talented performer who conveyed his views well here. His is a career I shall be extremely interested to watch unfold and work with a greater palate of subject matter. 'When Amar Met Jay' is to proceed in a swathe across the country between now and June, visiting Nottingham, London, Manchester and Leeds in this time and is a performance I cannot recommend highly enough.

Nick James

Hangama Productions


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