Dramaturg and Director Ross Ericson presents three distinct and diverse stories presenting an eclectic mix of British voices. Imagery of a multicultural Britain is depicted with a sharp vision whilst Red Dragon Productions uses the title of this evening to lift and expand the tales of all artists involved. Taking Flight is a fast paced, three play production with much entertainment.
100% of Nothing is Nothing expeditiously represents the reality of gender divide affecting the lead character, BC. A Chinese immigrant living in the UK, she is summoned home upon her father’s death. Attending the funeral, she confronts her brother’s (Michael Phong) infidelity and her own dead parent’s mistress. Maintaining the family’s dignity, she finally loses control of her emotions as the family reacts to the will. Does BC demand the sheer wealth left to her brother or is she after acknowledgment?
Switching between brother and mother, the insults grow and upon realising that infidelity has not been hidden from any single person, simply ignored, her British attitude is revealed through her surprise. BC however remains truthful to her heritage refusing to sever ties with her mother. She represents the microcosm of the British-Chinese community.
Joan C. Guyll has written a touching piece with stereotypes that although may seem patronising, instead raise a vital global issue. Eugenia Low portrays a British immigrant with great veracity and in the moments where she is clashing with her mother, she desires affection. BC’s 70 or so aged mother is played by Michelle Yim. Yim portrays the elderly spirit with ardor yet the grey wig and over emphasis on accent could have been excluded. 100% of Nothing is Nothing comically uses death to explain how gender inequality affects women worldwide.
Sammy Wong’s Ketchup delightfully depicts the life of Emily (Yim) – born in Salford. Whilst at school she helps her Mother, Nguyen (Low) with running their Vietnamese-Chinese takeaway. Chinese Nugyen, escaped from Vietnam after the war due to ethnic cleansing. With this backstory in mind, Wong switches about a timeline depicting Emily’s transition from an immigrant’s daughter to tarimed psychologist. The audience are able to see Emily grow up with each scene – university interview – living in student halls – to living the vision her mother had only imagined.
During the last moments, in a session with Safaa (Megha Dhingra), a Syrian refugee, Emily, in return, helps the very people who emulate her own heritage. Safaa and Nguyen speak one after the other, with a 35-year gap between their experiences, yet not any change in the atrocities carried throughout history.
Ketchup is colourful portrayal of horrific slaughters plaguing the world. It also reminds individuals of how the UK has a history of welcoming individuals and then juxtaposing it with the current political landscape. The fascination with ketchup is explained, originating from Vietnam, the British removed the fish sauce and added tomato sauce to suit the local taste. Ketchup is an excellent piece of writing and whether as film producer or playwright Wong’s career will be interesting to follow.
Hema Anjali is the story of two British-Indian sisters. Hema (Dhingra) is the youngest preparing for the marriage rituals of her sister Anjali (Harriet Sharmini Smithers). As the latter prepares to face her wedding day, through flashbacks we are shown the relationship of the sisters who have shared a bedroom since forever. Hema Anjali demonstrates that not all British Asian plays need to focus on conflict; this play instead expresses how family forms a positive outlook between siblings.
Dhingra, despite her ensemble role, becomes the star of this play portraying the role of the black sheep. Not interested in family traditions and retaliating against her sister’s conformity to beauty, she becomes the ‘pink flamingo’ and reluctantly participates in the wedding. In order to please her sister, her tantrums and burly attitude enables her to outshine in the midst of the festivities. Collectively, Smithers and Dhingra deliver a realistic portrayal of siblings and family.
Red Light productions have exceeded expectations. Equally all three plays deserve recognition and furthermore Grist to the Mill Productions accentuate each moment and scene change with their concise set, construction and sound design.