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An Adventure review at Bush Theatre, London – ‘tender, lyrical study of migration and upheaval’

Anjana Vasan and Shubham Saraf in An Adventure at the Bush Theatre, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton Anjana Vasan and Shubham Saraf in An Adventure at the Bush Theatre, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Charting the shared journey of a newly married couple from 1950s India to present-day Britain, An Adventure is a sprawling, impressionistic study of the lengths we go to in pursuit of success, security and happiness.

Delicate but never tentative, lyrical but grounded by a streak of caustic humour, Vinay Patel’s script draws inspiration from the experiences of his grandparents’ generation, taking in decades of political upheaval, racism, revolution and the miserable legacies of colonialism.

The story centres on fierce, fearless Jyoti, played with crackling, capricious energy by Anjana Vasan – and in the final act by a careworn but unbowed Nila Aalia. Forced to choose a husband at 14, she settles on Shubham Saraf’s likeable, determined underdog Rasik. They share tremendous chemistry, their sparky banter curdling into bitterness as the years go on. Beside them, Martins Imhangbe plays shrewd Mau Mau fighter David with moving, measured intensity.

Director Madani Younis allows each sequence to unfold at a leisurely, almost dreamlike pace, yet peppers the production with resonant details and evocative images. Between scenes, Jyoti upends a sackful of soil and dances barefoot in the dust. A scene in which she and Rasik wade into the sea becomes a weightless, deftly choreographed waltz.

Sally Ferguson’s bold lighting design washes over a sleek, featureless stage of burnished gold, saturating the space in vivid hues of saffron, violet and magenta. The effect is at once striking and uncomplicated, ideally suited to a play more concerned with mood and memory than mere events.

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Vinay Patel's tender, meandering odyssey takes on weighty themes with light touches