Daniel Nelson

Reoca Light is a slice of South African life, a slice of Indian life, a slice of a migrant family’s life, a slice of ethnic minority life, a slice of family life.

Ashwin Singh dishes up the slices in a 75-minute one-man story-telling play that recounts events in the life of a small Durban shop, from its conception by an indentured Indian sugar cane plantation worker in the 1870s to assaults on his great grandson, which finally force him to give up.

In the great great grandson’s telling of the “stories behind the store", we meet a dozen or so characters and a couple of dogs – notably shopkeeper dad, Uncle Johnny; the dignified Themba, and the neighbouring Singhs, including the eyelash-batting gliding Mama Singh who makes a surprise, heartbreaking appearance late in the piece.

It’s a simple set-up, but manages to touch on an array of topics and issues, large and small, from boyhood rivalry, racism (“The day the big bad world came to Reoca”), and snobbery.

There’s drama and humour, and the pace never flags. It’s the minutiae of family life during an epoch-changing struggle.  It’s been described as “both a dynamic piece of entertainment and an important cultural document” - and that’s a spot-on verdict.

Once again Tara Arts lives up to its description: “Tara is an award-winning multicultural theatre in London, home to a world of stories, from the classic to the new. Committed to connecting worlds, audiences are invited to step through the Indian front door into a world of colour, where the small is global.”

* Reoca Light is at Tara Theatre, 356 Garratt Lane, Earlsfield, SW18 until 4 August. Info: 8333 4457/ https://www.tara-arts.com/

 

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