Friday, 27 February 2015

REVIEW - Dara, National Theatre


RELIGION and sibling rivalries are at the centre of an epic adaptation of Shahid Nadeem's play Dara, now on at the Lyttelton.
Written by Tanya Ronder and directed by Nadia Fall it tells the story of the 17th century prince Dara Shikoh and his brother Aurangzeb, heirs to the Muslim empire, whose bitter rivalry helped shape modern day India.
Dara, played brilliantly by Zubin Varla, is the crown prince and a liberal who believes religious faiths can co-exist alongside one another. He also has the love of the people and of his emperor father.
His younger brother Aurangzeb, played by Sargon Yelda, fundamentally disagrees believing that it is Islam that is the only true religion.
Their disagreements boil over and come to a head when Dara finds himself arrested and tried for apostasy.
He is taken to court where he tries and fails to make a case for his beliefs and to convince them that he is no traitor to Islam or India.
The court scene is incredible and electric with Dara putting forward compelling arguments for his beliefs and ideals, wrong footing the prosecutor at every turn.
Indeed it is one of the most compelling, gripping and absorbing parts of the production.
The action takes place over many years following the princes' lives. It also jumps about between the past and present showing how and why events have unfolded in the way they have and offers suggestions as to why characters behave in the way they do.
Visually stunning and with a fantastic cast this is a fabulous production. The set is both beautiful and cleverly constructed with lattice effect screens which move across the stage not only symbolising the changes in time and place but also help to go from one scene to the next.
Ultimately it is a fascinating story of the faith, politics and history of India and its relevance to today's struggle against religious extremism is clear.

Dara is on at the National Theatre until April 4. Tickets from £15. Visit or call the box office on 020 7452 3000.

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