Community Correspondent: Partition, WY Playhouse

Review by: Mary Johnson-Green

Living as I do in post WW2 Britain, the word partition meant little to me, until recently. The 70th anniversary of this historic event has prompted an outpouring of information on TV, radio and in the newspapers. But this play is, for me, the icing on the wedding cake.  

It marries events of 70 years ago with decisions made in Britain today in an innovative way, highlighting with graphic details some of the horrific events of the past. 

The union of two people in matrimony is usually emotionally charged, when families are brought together in celebration. For these two characters, turmoil of the past is added. 

The story set in 2017 Leeds. Samina, of Muslim background and Ranjit, whose family is Sikh are getting married. Their relatives are invited, but can they bring themselves to attend?

There are 10 characters in this play, acted out skilfully by just 4 people who change characters throughout. The performance is charged with emotion, tears of laughter and sadness in equal amounts. 

The most outstanding performance for me was that of Darren Kuppan who flipped from portraying a funny young Leeds lad about get married to and eighty year old in a very short time but well done to all of the cast.

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Vanessa Nuttall, Celia Hutchinson, Mez Galaria, Stefan Escreet, Balvinder Sopal, Darren Kuppan, Dominic Gately and Nick Ahad. Photography by Jacob Tomlinson​.

However, that’s not all that is clever about this production. This was a radio play, first heard on Radio Leeds, at midnight on 15 September, enacted on stage. It was a unique collaboration between Radio Leeds and The West Yorkshire Playhouse. It was created live in front of the audience to commemorate the 70th anniversary of India’s partition and the creation of Pakistan. 

Stories from the past, however painful to recall, need to be heard and this production goes a long way towards doing just this.  

It is well produced, thoughtfully researched and a pleasure to attend. The radio play is available via iPlayer until 12 September. Well worth a listen for those quick enough.

To see what else is on at West Yorkshire Playhouse visit their website: www.wyp.org.uk

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