Between The Two is a piece about ‘identity, memory and love’. It follows the story of a young woman as she leaves India for the first time to go to England, a place that she has never been and nor has her father, though his family are from there. Focusing on her relationships with family members, friends and strangers a picture of her life starts to emerge, her experiences as an ‘Anglo-Indian’ in both India and the boat to England.
This piece has some interesting things to say about a period of history that is often overlooked and that I had very little knowledge of going in to the show. This perhaps left me at a disadvantage, I had no detailed background on the period beyond a few dates, and often found events detailed in the plot hard to follow.
This was a problem I kept having with the production, it was very unclear and I often found myself lost. The scenes were episodic in nature, which was necessary for the ambitious amount of material that was covered, but it was difficult to connect the dots. This structure also meant I would get invested in a scene, start to find my footing and then the scene would be over, which I found more and more frustrating as the piece went on. Another thing that muddied the waters was an ambitious level of multi-rolling which more often than not was not clearly sign posted and left me lost again.
The set was satisfyingly well done, two orange panels made of translucent material were wheeled around the stage to form a number of different rooms and structures, one minute the walls of a dining club, the next a sky at sunset. They were projected with real photos and letters from the family the piece is based on, a lovely touch to remind us that these were real people, that these stories are history but still tangible, touchable. In the beginning they were clear and were gradually covered with clothes on hangers, English and Indian, visually describing the clutter of a conflicted identity.
The cast gave some beautiful performances, particularly Nadi Kemp-Sayfi as a young woman on the edge of a new life, and I would have been very easily swept up in their world, I really wanted to be, but the lack of clarity meant that I was left cold where I wanted to be moved. This piece is talking about an important, overlooked period of history and there is something very beautiful at the heart of it, it just needs to be more clearly sign posted to help its audience find it.