‘A reflection of real people and their very real experiences’

A play rich with emotion, Our White Skoda Octavia (Peterborough Key Theatre, November 5 and 6) seeks to communicate the gaps in between the South Asian stereotypes usually witnessed on stage.

Monday, 8th November 2021, 8:20 am
Our White Skoda Octavia.
Photo: Mike Kwasniak
Our White Skoda Octavia. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

Engaging its diverse audience with a combination of traditional tabla music and references to soft-rock radio, the play speaks directly to the multiculturalism of the mid-2000s that perhaps goes unnoticed.

Writer Shamser Sinha has done an excellent job of using real stories he’s heard first-hand to execute strongly and further brought to life by Sameena Hussain’s direction.

Our White Skoda Octavia takes place in both 2007 and 2019, which lends its hand to a wide range of character developments. Amjad, father, husband (played by the clearly seasoned Tiran Aakel) and from a family of goat-herders, is a typically closed-off and very guarded man. However, after the interval, we see him softened by both the toll of his diabetes and old age and the fragmentation of his family.

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Our White Skoda Octavia. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

Gurjot Dhaliwal’s theatre debut as Yasmin Afridi was confident and consistent in her performance of the youngest child to Rabia and Amjad and lifeline for her brother Faisal, played by Ali Arshad, who also delivered a sterling performance. Portraying a convincing relationship on stage, the nuances of navigating young adult life as British citizens with South Asian heritage and a complicated family are performed well.

The dialogue is powerful at certain moments, especially during exchanges between husband and wife (played by the versatile Freny Nina Pavri). Sensitive themes are addressed with very little subtlety, certainly shocking the audience in the process. In one scene, Faisal learns of an Islamophobic attack on an old classmate of Yasmin’s. The play does a fantastic job of addressing the emotional complications of experiencing a miscarriage; as seen in the escalating arguments between Amjad and Rabia.

On the whole, each of the four Afridis and their respective actors clearly represent a unique struggle for South Asian folk in a predominantly white society. Our White Skoda Octavia (From Eastern Angles Theatre) shows its audience what theatre should be: a reflection of real people and their very real experiences.

Review: Amir Suleman