It’s Diwali, and Rachel is preparing the celebrations, her family have all prepared their best outfits and the much-loved but ailing grandfather will be arriving later. Passing is a living room drama about tradition, heritage and family relationships, and while the subject matter is compelling, the lack of subtlety and cosy resolution undermines what could have been a meaningful piece of theatre.
Diwali, the festival of light, has never been celebrated in the Singh household before, but Rachel is keen to rekindle a connection to her cultural heritage. She has brought her desperately awkward and ridiculously irritating boyfriend Matt (Jack Flammiger) to her family home for the celebration. Her brother David (Kishore Walker) is cynical, neither enthusiastic nor understanding of where this sudden yearning for heritage has come from. Ruth (Catherine Cusak), the mother is doing her best, and the father Yash (Bhaskar Patel) seems bemused about the whole affair. As with many family get-togethers, uncomfortable truths come out in the wash, and before long there is a physical altercation over a game of Cluedo, someone is accused of cultural appropriation and presents get broken. Dan Sareen’s script is very knowingly telling the audience, ‘Hey look, a family drama, you’ve seen these before’ but by the end of the first act, he begins to let the audience in on what is underlying these uncomfortable family dynamics.
This all sounds like quite a good play. But after the first hour, we are only just beginning to see the tensions coming out. In the second act, when they do come out, they are explored in a formulaic and simplistic way. Sareen is very capable of writing dialogue believably, conversations that take place remind me of my family, but he is so nervous about bringing up the meat of the text that we are left waiting, and then when he can procrastinate no longer, he just spits it out with no nuance, telling the audience what the moral of the story is.
The performances are quite good but are held back by the simplicity of the writing. The family all talk, behave and act like a real family, their chemistry is clear and they could have really challenged the audience with a different script.
The play is funny, and topical; it approaches a thought-provoking subject with a personal touch. But, the points it makes are half-baked and its resolution is so kind and comfortable that we, the audience, are left with cushy, and unchallenging thoughts as we leave the theatre.
Review by Tom Carter
Rachel is stuck – from two different backgrounds but without one clear identity. And with her Indian Grandfather’s health declining and her Father’s rejection of his roots, time is running out.
Desperate to maintain her connection to her heritage, Rachel organises the family’s very first celebration of Diwali – determined to bring Indian culture into their lives before it’s too late. As the Singh family are pushed to their limits, family lines are drawn, British politeness begins to slip, and they are forced to confront what they are at risk of losing.
With music, food, and even board games, this moving, family comedy-drama shines a light on the modern biracial experience. When does cultural heritage become lost through generations? And at what point do we fight to keep that legacy alive?
Following critically acclaimed productions at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Seven Dials Playhouse, Want the Moon Theatre makes its Park90 debut.
RACHEL SINGH | AMY-LEIGH HICKMAN
YASH SINGH | BHASKER PATEL
RUTH SINGH | CATHERINE CUSACK
MATT | JACK FLAMMIGER
DAVID SINGH | KISHORE WALKER
WRITER & PRODUCER | DAN SAREEN
DIRECTOR | IMY WYATT CORNER
COMPANY STAGE MANAGER AND ASSISTANT DIRECTOR | CASSIA THAKKAR
LIGHTING DESIGN | CATJA HAMILTON
PRODUCER | ELLEN HARRIS
MARKETING | CUP OF AMBITION
PR | CHLOE NELKIN CONSULTING
Want the Moon Theatre in association with Park Theatre presents the World Premiere of
By Dan Sareen
Directed by Imy Wyatt Corner
Plays: Wed 1 Nov – Sat 25 Nov 2023