Although it has now been closed due to opposition from the Sikh community on religious grounds, half way through its run, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s second play for the Rep, Behtzi, is an awe-inspiring masterpiece full of wit, grit and wisdom.
The emotions are raw and real and are made palpable by the excellent cast, who give remarkably captivating performances under the direction of Janet Steel.
The play may or may not be an accurate image of Sikhism in Britain but that is not the point. It is a touching story about a mother and a daughter, about loneliness and love and about truth and honour.
While the first half of the play is dominated by delightfully humorous and poignant dialogue, the second half spirals into deep and disturbing drama which leaves the truth nowhere to hide, stripping reality bare from facades built by culture, faith, pride and fear.
Shelley King is extremely powerful as the hard, bitter but always loving mother Balbir, whose gratitude and caring is mostly spat out as venom to hide her vulnerability and fears. The role could not have been better cast.
Yasmin Wilde also shines as her naive daughter Min, who tries not to deal with trapped painful and confused childhood memories by concentrating on caring for her mother.
Laughs are guaranteed everytime Munir Khairdin speaks as the elusive Giani Jaswant, whose pseudo-spiritual riddles do not make any sense but work as a mechanism for escapism.
The single set is cleverly built, with a wonderful use of colours and lighting.
Behtzi scratches deep under the surface of human nature and is definitely a must see.