Theatre Review: ‘Dara’ at London’s National Theatre

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It�۪s 1569. Prince Dara and his son Siphir wait anxiously by the high walls and entrance gate of a grand palace. Their clothes torn and full of filth. Siphir; unsure whether they�۪d be greeted by friend or foe. Dara, confident that this could only be the home of a friend��_ or could it?

Zubin Varla as Dara in court room
Zubin Varla as Dara in court room

The National Theatre has recently opened its curtains to unveil the live production of ��Dara�۪, a compelling and emotional performance that takes hold of all the eyes that are watching. Evoking on the subject of religion and culture that the world still face today. ��Nadia Fall and Tanya Ronder adapt and direct a magnificent show based on the original play by Shahid Nadeem, that tells the story of the battle between the great Emperor Shah Jahan�۪s two sons; Dara the crown prince and passionate poet who expresses his appreciation for all religions through his poetry and loved by all, and Aurangzeb a bitter and jealous younger brother with a thirst for power, who knows no bounds to get what he wants and believes Islam is the only religion that should be believed in.

Zubin Varla as Dara and Prasanna Puwanarajah as Prosecutor Talib and the company of Dara
Zubin Varla as Dara and Prasanna Puwanarajah as Prosecutor Talib and the company of Dara

Nadia Fall�۪s direction though slow at times, includes scenes that resonate passion and emotion which help draw audiences to the story. With some stand out scenes including a very emotional and heart-warming scene where Dara is standing for trial being accused of going against the Islamic religion according to Sharia law, this production holds the right elements that make a good watch.

Where the flow of the story was lacking slightly, the cast made up for with their perfect portrayal of each character. Zubin Varla plays Dara brilliantly, emulating an outstanding performance of a man who is torn between his duties and a crown prince, as a Sufi Musilim ��and as a brother. One thing you notice as an audience member is how powerful Varla�۪s voice is. Giving heart-warming dialogues that have you engulfed in his character from beginning to end.

Zubin Varla as Dara
Zubin Varla as Dara

Sargon Yelda manages to depict on all all the elements that make a villain as Aurangzeb. As the audiences witness this character play out the most unimaginable things in order to gain power, one only hopes his efforts go wasted, just as like his heart seems. Though, you are briefly exposed to Aurangzeb being in love with the Hindu girl Hira, who tragically dies before his atrocities begin.

Sargon Yelda as Aurangzeb
Sargon Yelda as Aurangzeb

Nathalie Armin and Anneika Rose make good representations��of sisters Jahanra and Roshanra who each side with the two brothers. Armin is passionate as Janhara who does all she can to fight for her brother Dara, where as Rose is seen as heartless and ignorant as she sides with Aurangzeb supporting his actions.

Nathalie Armin as Jahanara
Nathalie Armin as Jahanara

Actor Vincent Ebrahim plays the great Shah Jahan flawlessly, where it�۪s very evident that he may have been the culprit of what is happening to his once loving family. Giving an impressionable performance, and illustrating great chemistry with all that share the stage with him.

Vincent Ebrahim as Shah Jahan
Vincent Ebrahim as Shah Jahan

Overall, the play is a delight to watch, and the performances are perfect in keeping the audience present to the story line. However there are times where one is left slightly lost as to what is happening as the story is taken to and from different periods of time. The National Theatre have presented an interesting watch and it works a great way to discover more about Indian history.

Sargon Yelda (Aurangzeb), Chook Sibtain (Itbar) and Zubin Varla (Dara)
Sargon Yelda (Aurangzeb), Chook Sibtain (Itbar) and Zubin Varla (Dara)
Scott Karim as Faqir
Scott Karim as Faqir
Nicholas Khan (Mir Khalil), Esh Alladi (Gvernor Khan), Sargon Yelda (Aurangzeb), Simon Nagra (Mullah Farooq), Rudi Dharmalingham (Danishmand)
Nicholas Khan (Mir Khalil), Esh Alladi (Gvernor Khan), Sargon Yelda (Aurangzeb), Simon Nagra (Mullah Farooq), Rudi Dharmalingham (Danishmand

BizAsia Showbiz Rating: 4/5

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