Eastern Angles' new play offers compelling portrait of immigration in East Anglia
- Credit: Mike Kwasniak
Our White Skoda Octavia, by Shamser Sinha, Eastern Angles, Sir John Mills Theatre
Our White Skoda Octavia is more than a car. It is part of the family, a bread winning lifeline mini cab that promises much and ultimately becomes an unbearably painful legacy. Shamser Sinha’s ambitious new play in a “beat of an engine, like a beat of a heart” swallows up time, asking many questions about the choices we have and living with the consequences.
Amjad, the flawed but trying patriarch is presented powerfully by Tiran Aakel throughout. A man of humour; a union organiser who has paid that price; a family man who is an immigrant from Pakistan but could be Afghan too. Borders? He shrugs this off, but it means more to their son Faisal (Ali Arshad) who bears the brunt of the first generation expectations of survival and success.
Rabia (Freny Nina Pavry) and Amjad’s daughter Yasmin is a character developed with impressive nuance by Gurjot Dhaliwal. By the second half she has fully grown into a mix of both mother and father and eventually has the resilience to act on Amjad’s words: “Don’t let anyone take what’s yours.”
Unfortunately, the plot of Our White Skoda feels too big with too many threads and unanswered questions to be satisfyingly coherent in its current form. The voice Sinha gives to the cab drivers and South Asian community here in the East of England has passion and poetry and is both an urgent and vital eye opener. I want to know more. However, this doesn’t quite gel with aspects of the family drama convincingly.
Our White Skoda Octavia opened at the Sir John Mills Theatre and is on tour throughout November.