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Approaching Empty review at Kiln Theatre, London – ‘strongly performed’

They’re an unlikely pairing, Raf (Nicholas Khan) and Mansha (Kammy Darweish): one dresses his tall and lithe figure in sharp tailoring paired with leather tasseled loafers, the other is short and stout and wears corduroy trousers and cosy cardigans.

But they’ve been best friends for years, both part of the generation of middle-aged Asian men who came to England in their teens and spent the majority of their lives here. Now they’re employer and employee – Raf owns King’s Cars, the Middlesbrough based minicab firm that is managed by Mansha.

In Ishy Din’s engaging new play, capably directed by Pooja Ghai, both men started out in the manufacturing industry of pre-Thatcher Britain. It’s now 2013: their industry is obsolete, Thatcher is dead, and while Raf has seemingly done well for himself with his business, Mansha’s transition from the factories to the phones serves as a constant reminder of a wasted life. He is determined to do better.

Under the fluorescent strip lighting of designer Rosa Maggiora’s teeny-tiny cab office, the two men strike up a deal that, on the face of it, seems mutually beneficial.

Ishy Din’s writing lays the foundations for a solid set of performances from the six-strong ensemble. There’s a barnstorming turn from Rina Fatania, whose Sameena,a foul-mouthed ex-convict who’s fresh out of prison, is both fierce and fearsome. Her comic delivery is impeccable. It takes great skill as an actor to move from light to dark within a single performance, but Fatania has this in abundance.

Taxi driver-turned-playwright Ishy Din: ‘I wrote on a laptop in the cab in-between jobs’ [1]

Verdict
Ishy Din’s strongly-performed portrait of post-Thatcher Britain, set in a northern town

Production Information

Production
Approaching Empty
Venue
Kiln Theatre
City
London
Starts
January 9, 2019
Ends
February 2, 2019, then touring to Live Theatre, Newcastle
Press night
January 14, 2019
Authors
Ishy Din
Director
Pooja Ghai
Set
Rosa Maggiora
Lighting
David Plater
Sound
Arun Ghosh
Stage manager
Lorrell Rawlins
Cast includes
Kammy Darweish, Nicholas Khan, Karan Gill, Rina Fatania, Maanuv Thiara, Nicholas Prasad
Producer
Tamasha, Kiln Theatre and Live Theatre