I discovered Sukh Ojla, author of the play ‘Pyar Actually’ on BBC Asian Network Comedy earlier this year. She was by far the funniest comedian on that night, must have been as my Dad watched with me and was laughing his head off. If that doesn’t indicate a success I don’t know what does!
So I did some stalking and found her on Twitter and we’ve been ‘social media sahelis’ ever since.
I saw Sukh perform live at The Glee Club when I moved to Birmingham, my throat hurt from laughing so hard! So when I saw in the Twitterverse that she’d written and was going to star in a play I had to see it!
I took my cousin with me to Warwick Arts Centre to watch Pyar Actually in association with Rifco Arts, who help give voices to British Asian artists and stories.
Pyar Actually revolves around Polly (Sukh) who works at the local council, has a husband and two kids, a nice steady life. Then there’s Bali (a charming Simon Rivers) who is a bachelor back in town after his mum dies and has made quite a success of himself since leaving.
The chemistry between the two is real and really funny! I love the flashbacks scenes to when they were younger ‘innit’.
The play was not what I expected in terms of story. To be honest I’m just getting into finding out more about British Asian authors and actors. The lack of them in mainstream media has always irritated me, as I never see anyone that looks like me and when they do they’re always talking about serious cultural issues (which of course is fine) or they’re telling the standard love story.
Whilst Pyar Actually is a love story, the twists and turns were a pleasant surprise and ones I did not see coming. That’s what made me really enjoy this play, the unpredictability and that even brown people can have normal human life stories.
The production was simple yet effective, slowly revealing layers of the background as the story unfolded, very cleverly done and added a nice touch as the play went along. For a play that was 1hr20 minutes, I felt like I’d been there 10 and definitely wanted more, but it ended well and leaves you plenty of story to play within your own mind.
The Q&A afterward was worth sticking around for to hear how the idea and story came from other women from workshops Sukh attended. Asian women in particular when younger don’t always have a choice in terms of how their lives pan out and tend to be predestined in to getting married and have babies before the old eggs dry up.
Seeing this play in a room full of Asians gave me hope that things are moving in a direction that allows for more stories to be told. More human, everyday stories. As Asians, we don’t have to be forced into marriage (even though that still happens) or talk constantly about our cultural backgrounds and the sacrifices made.
NB…Me personally, as much as I love my heritage and history I want to see more stories where I can resonate with characters that have lives, jobs, love, and loss. We’re multi-dimensional characters too that date, have sex, go out and fall in love, feel betrayed and above all just trying to get by like everyone else.
Have a good day xo