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Review of Freedom the play at the Arcola Theatre

Freedom“Freedom is a tense and powerful drama, punctuated by dark humour and tragic romance”
The story is set between Tajikistan and England, and follows three characters forced to choose between their own freedom and that of each other.  The innovative stage scenery is split between the two countries and it works very well. Without giving too much away from the plot, the play is as follows:

Benham, is a Tajik opium farmer who is desperately trying to do the best he can for his family in a country that has had its heart torn apart by civil war. Although in the eyes of his son Fariad, Benham is the master of his farm, the farm itself, in the family for generations, is essentially controlled by Benham’s paymasters, the drug barons.

The drug gangsters want the current opium crop and don’t want to pay anything for it, and Benham lies to them in order to save his family’s livelihood.

To prove the lie that Benham has told to his gangster masters, his son Fariad has to travel to England on a quest and return home with a “prize” in order to save his father, his family and the farm. During his time in England Fariad falls in love with a beautiful Spanish girl, (Jennifer) who works alongside him at a fast-food outlet.

And so the story unfolds…

Doubtless many people will go to see this play and come away with a different perspective about how each character is finding their own way in order to be free. The play is raw in its portrayal and this is its strength.

Rian Perle plays the role of Benham extremely well. Although he has a soft voice, he projects his dialogue very well, and his dilemma is plain to see. His constant struggle to retain his pride and keep his family’s tradition of working the farm, and in effect his own moral freedom, is a hard battle. To survive in such a war-torn country where criminals with guns rule the farmer’s lives is hard and perhaps Benham has the toughest task of all three characters.

Benham’s son Fariad is played by Indranyl Singharay, who delivers his dialogue in a commendable way, portraying the son superbly, who at first only sees a future on his father’s farm, but as a young man in a foreign country becomes torn in his decision making.  At the start of the story Fariad is a naive young man in his native country, perhaps without an established moral compass, and as the play develops he struggles to come to terms with what to do and what is right and wrong.

Rebeca Cobos is not only the producer but also plays the part of Rebecca, who is a ‘love-interest’ of Fariad’s. Cobos adds an extra pace to the play with her vibrant and dynamic performance. The interaction between herself and the other characters is at the heart of the play. An excellent performance.

Paul Micah’s evocative sound design and Ivan Capillas’ music create the perfect background for the dual ethnicity of the play, while Rick Limentani’s directing combines comedy and conflict to deliver an absorbing play.

A superbly written play that is well worth a visit!

1st February 2012

Author

  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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