Combustion ★★★★★

Ah, I love it when a play really comes together. Not just because the actors are completely committed to their role; not just because the music choices are particularly appropriate (and catchy), and not even because the playwright is clearly very skilled.

No - it's the synergy between these key elements - the invisible thread which keeps everything connected - that makes this art really transcend expectations and leave a lasting impression.

Combustion highlights the social conflict inherent in our culture and balances it with a sense of humour which may very well be necessary given the material. Ramadan is wrapping up in Bradford and Shaz, a devoted Muslim, is trying to keep his mechanic business afloat whilst local Muslim men are being convicted of raping underage girls. His loyal colleagues Ali and Faisal keep the comic momentum of the play going, whilst Shaz's younger sister Samina's desire to unite the community raises Shaz's blood pressure. Our fifth character, the initially confrontational Andy, is wonderfully mellowed as the play progresses. He artfully provides comic relief too.

Despite its Spartan feel, the Arcola has a good deal of space for the actors to explore – there is a fence behind the stage which they use when not in performance, or to occasionally express emotion through subtle physicality. I particularly liked how the actors maintained their characters during scene changes – a smashing feature which I rarely see utilised.

There is a twist in this play which was entirely unexpected, as well a growing harmony as the play progresses (particularly between Samina and Andy) amidst all the tension. This play will make you appreciate a very serious situation without leaving you demoralised.

Pure magic.

 


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