Reviewed by Demi Franks
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
‘…Thought your home was India?’ ‘No, it’s wherever you are.’
Tanika Gupta hits the sweet spot and gets the right blend of heart-filled sentiment and outlandish laugh-out-loud humour to make ‘Love n stuff’ a warm and uplifting way to re-open the Coliseum after so long.
‘Love n Stuff’ which first premiered at Theatre Royal Stratford East in London in 2013, centres around the marriage of Bindi and Mansoor, played by Komal Amin and Maanuv Thiara respectively.
“Beef with the missus?” “No she doesn’t eat beef. She’s Hindu.” Its a story of marriage; the good, the bad and the everything in between. A story of the things that divide us and the things that unite us, but ultimately a story of (yep you guessed it) ‘love!’
As we take our seats waiting for the performance to start, we find ourselves inside a departure lounge at Heathrow Airport, the irony and nostalgia of which isn’t lost on us as we wait patiently after the last 18 months of travel restrictions, for a holiday… Oh and for the show to start!
Mansoor is waiting for his ‘delayed’ one-way flight to India, whilst his wife (and seemingly their entire neighbourhood) have other plans.
In-between the ‘Love’ there certainly is A LOT of other ‘Stuff’ going on. Amin and Thiara mutli-roleplay the entire show (13+ characters) themselves. It is indeed no mean feat that they are on stage and hold the audience’s attention for the entire 1 hour and 20 minutes. Their multi-roleplaying is of exceptional standard and range; from an over zealous duty-free assistant, to an erotic-obsessed temple guide. There is no limit as Amin cross-genders with the embodiment of the young South-Londoner ‘Baggy’ with panache. Both Amin and Thiara really do flourish in their portrayals of such a vast array of characters, whilst at the same time showcasing their ability to switch back and forth between each one, using mainly just their physicality and voice, with pin-point precision and great efficacy.
Although with so much going on it occasionally may feel a little challenging to connect emotionally with the piece, Buttoo’s direction ensures that whilst chaos ensues, its organised. Sibai’s slick, smart and simple, yet versatile set, allows the storytelling to unravel smoothly, equally aided by Sayeed and McCready’s culture-rich music and Taylor’s precise lighting design, the scenes are established and evolve quickly and effectively.
It’s hard to believe ‘Love n Stuff’ is the Coliseum’s first in-house produced show since February 2020. A joyful and poignant way to burst open the much loved doors of the Coliseum and the hearts of it’s audience, which on a side note, felt more diverse then ever. Kudos to the Coliseum for their continuous hard work engaging and connecting with different parts of it’s identity, culture and the outer community.
This Autumn, for a laugh-out-loud, heart warming theatrical experience, all you need is LOVE (n Stuff).
‘Love n Stuff’ runs at Oldham Coliseum until Saturday 2nd of October – here.
‘Love n Stuff’ also visits:
Watford Palace Theatre – Tuesday 5th – Saturday 9th October 2021 here.
Sheffield Crucible Studio- Wednesday 13th- Saturday 16th October here.