Hurling Rubble at The Sun by Avaes Mohammad – Director Rod Dixon
Hurling Rubble at the Sun is the first of two plays by Avaes Mohammed that are playing concurrently at Park Theatre. Billed as separate plays they don’t quite stand alone. I would recommend anyone booking for one to book for both Hurling Rubble at the Sun and Hurling Rubble at the Moon. Although they are different stories and very different in tone and pace, it really makes much more sense to see them alongside each other.
Directed by Rod Dixon, Sun tells the story of Taufeeq ‘T’ Sultan (Regevan Vasan) the night before the 7/7 bombings in 2005. The play opens loud and mostly dialogue free, although there is much use of sound effects that I found slightly intrusive and distracting. Perhaps the idea is that ‘T’ is alone with only the sounds of silence and everything is distorted for him in this moment, but I wasn’t quite sure.
There’s a visit to his mother Mrs Malik, played beautifully by Bharti Patel where T struggles to make a connection with her. Aware that this might be his last night, he seems to want some comfort which is not forthcoming. The scene feels overlong in spite of some lovely ideas – the cooking, eating, watching television, and the constant back and forth between T and Mrs Malik are interesting and we do learn a little more backstory in this scene. But ultimately I felt that I still didn’t understand why ‘T’ had made the decision he had. His family are devout, but he doesn’t seem to be particularly – there is a sort of explanation, but I wasn’t quite convinced.
There’s a great twist and then in the final scene there are again excellent performances. Nicola Duffett is hilarious as Mary Brenna, a chatty woman on the bus, accidentally caught up in T’s moment. There are some good lines for her, including an excellent joke about her daughter-in-law, and then it all changes again.
It’s a relevant and ambitious piece of theatre, with some fantastic writing and Vasan’s portrayal of ‘T’ is impressively innocent and yet determined. This a play that strives to asks important questions about modern politics and what drives men like ‘T’ to do what they do.
Hurling Rubble at The Moon – By Avaes Mohammed – Directed by Jez Bond
The second play of the double bill, Hurling Rubble at The Moon, is an entirely different tone and the stronger of the two plays. Skef (Jim English) is the kind of lad the tabloids like to warn you about – jobless, feckless, racist, ignorant and fuelled by a desire to fit in to a world that doesn’t seem to want him, with a propensity for violence and mood swings. He loses his job and blames his Pakistani boss, the girl he fancies doesn’t fancy him and so has to pay.
‘Moon’ looks at the other side of the story, the people of ‘broken Britain’ and the rise of right-wing politics. It’s smartly done and Mark Cameron playing Dean Walsh (Skef’s dad) is everything you don’t want in a father – selfish, often absent and the kind of man who believes in nothing but violence and hate. There’s a moment where he steals from the BNP collection box that tells you everything you need to know about this man. Of course Skef is in his thrall and we can only watch as events unravel.
There’s smart pacey direction from Jez Bond, and genuinely laugh out loud moments. Gerbil (Paige Round) and Major (Dinita Gohil) are cracking in this play – smart, sassy and believable. And when ‘T’ from ‘Hurling Rubble at the Sun’ reappears we start to piece together some of the background story. Avaes Mohammad has been brave and ballsy with much of this writing, giving his characters beliefs and speeches that theatre often avoids, and mostly they pay off. The audience is generally appalled, but aware that these views are real views held by people like Dean.
But there are questions and plot deviations that are confusing – quite why the gorgeous and clued in Major would be attracted to Skef is a mystery (Though it does provide one of the funniest scenes in the play). Why Gerbil would later to confide in him is equally odd and at times it feels like the characters are being moved to serve the metaphor that Mohammad is writing.
But then everything gets less funny and the metaphor is driven home in one of the most disturbing final scenes of a play I’ve witnessed. Some people will consider it a brave choice and others gratuitous. Personally, I think the same questions about whether we are complicit in these lives could have been made differently and still have the same impact – but that’s just me.
Hurling Rubble from the Moon is a courageous attempt at writing about a difficult subject from a warts and all perspective and Mohammed shows real skill and inhabiting the minds of opposing characters. He has a lot of ideas and some of them work much better than others. But this is a tough watch, so brace yourself.
Review by Roz Wyllie
HURLING RUBBLE AT THE SUN & HURLING RUBBLE AT THE MOON
by Avaes Mohammad
Park Theatre and Red Ladder Theatre Company present a double-bill of plays, performed in repertory from 13 May – 6 June, that deliver the human story behind contemporary British Extremism, from Blackburn-born writer Avaes Mohammad.
Opening in the aftermath of the ‘election of a generation,’ these two connecting stories tell of an anger and resentment in working class Britain that won’t be quelled by posturing politicians.
Set in Blackburn, in the initial years from September 11th 2001, these two plays tell two halves of the same story of frustration and radicalisation, HURLING RUBBLE AT THE SUN seen through the eyes of the British Asian community, HURLING RUBBLE AT THE MOON from those of the white working class.
HURLING RUBBLE AT THE SUN, directed by Red Ladder Artistic Director Rod Dixon, tells the story of T, previously secure in his northern British Asian community, but driven to action by the growing violence that he and his mates increasingly encounter in the years following 2001. In attempting to rebuild a new landscape the only voices available come from a battered tape of Tupac and the discourse of Islamism ringing from mouths of newly-founded street prophets. His parents are stuck in a tradition that has nothing to offer him, and they don’t understand that the hatred they experience on a day to day basis has changed – ‘terrorist’ is a much more incendiary word than ‘paki’ – and that a new type of hatred requires a new kind of response.
HURLING RUBBLE AT THE MOON directed by Park Theatre Artistic Director Jez Bond, is set in the same place, but follows the story of Skef and his dad, Dean, one-time football hooligan who comes back into Skef’s life out of the blue after abandoning him as a kid. After being sacked from his job by an Asian manager, Skef starts to hang around with his childhood sweetheart Gerbil and also to join his dad down the pub, and on his marches. All Skef wants is an England in which he feels treated fairly, and feels some ownership in but when Skef finds out that Gerbil is seeing T, it all feels like it’s about to blow up in his face. This threat is new, and it needs a new kind of response.
Directors: Rod Dixon (Hurling Rubble at the Sun), Jez Bond (Hurling Rubble at the Moon)
Designer: Rhys Jarman, Lighting Designer: Joules McCready, Projection Designer: Victor Craven, Sound Designer: Jaydev Mistry, Casting Directors: Lucy Jenkins CDG and Sooki McShane CDG
14 May – 6 June 2015
Box office: 020 7870 6876