‘ELEPHANT’ is the nickname given to Auntie Vira as a child – one which has stayed with her into adulthood.
It is a fitting title for this show at the Birmingham Rep, becoming apparent as the story unfolds and there is the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’.
Playwright Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti offers up a thought-provoking and powerful piece of drama, which promotes discussion long after you have left the theatre.
It is skillfully constructed with a nice easing in of the characters via plenty of family banter to have the audience relaxed and chuckling right from the start.
It is the eve of Amy’s 18th birthday party and gap year ‘going off travelling’ celebration combined.
It is going to be a big flashy affair at a posh venue filled with all her relatives and friends.
Enter the relative that has not been seen for years ‘Elephant’ who gushes forth warmth and good humour in such abundance that immediately endears Amy and her brother Bill to her. She brings with her presents, a beautiful new sari for the party and also something much darker – family secrets, which start to first emerge and then explode! When the climax erupts it has the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end.
The strong cast includes Ezra Faroque Khan as Barry the father of the household, his wife Deesh Yasmin Wilde, Raagni Sharma as daughter Amy and Farshid Rokey as Bill. Elephant or Vira is a triumphant performance by Sukh Ojla.
The play also contains one of the best put down lines ever written which I would love to tell you but cannot repeat here. You will just have to go and see it to find out for yourselves.
Elephant runs until March 3 at The Rep’s The Door theatre – visit https://www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/elephant.html for more information and tickets.
Review by Euan Rose