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Worlds Apart – The Arrival.
The Bush Theatre is on roll with new artistic director Lynette Linton’s inspired new season. Their latest production The Arrival, written and directed by Olivier Award-winning director Bijan Sheibani (Barber Shop Chronicles, The Brothers Size) is a moving portrayal of family, loss, discovery, and belonging.
This beautifully staged play tells the bittersweet story of two British-Iranian brothers in their 30’s. Tom (Scott Karim) was adopted at birth and his younger brother by 5 years, Samad (Irfan Shamji) was raised by his biological parents. Tom tracks down his brother and what unfolds is a poignant meeting of strangers with a powerful blood bond between them.
The exploration of each other’s worlds is deeply moving, whereas Samas tentatively holds back; Tom is like a child in a sweet shop desperate to have and know it all.
Their worlds are poles apart; Tom runs a computer business and went to the local comp, whereas Samad went to private school, read English at Cambridge before going into publishing. Tom is spirited and enthusiastic and doesn’t hold back, on the other hand, Samad, although initially fascinated by the discovery of his older brother, is quieter and more measured, and he proves to be wary and protective of his family unit having valued his position as the oldest sibling in the family.
With frequent meetings, their relationship becomes more entwined to the point in which Tom wants Samad to move in with him, which Samad almost does and then changes his mind at the last minute. Tom is hugely disappointed and feels hurt and let down, and although he gets to meet his biological parents, he is kept at a distance, once again experiencing a familiar sense of rejection. What’s never clear is why his parents gave him up, we get snippets of information, but never enough to piece a clear picture together and I wanted to know more.
Gradually the cracks begin to show, Samad pulls back more and more, no longer needing the support of his newfound sibling, and as he cuts his own path, months and then years go by between the brothers’ meeting. Tom begins to drift.
Both Scott Karim and Irfan Shamji give extraordinarily touching and raw performances, which allow both brothers to strip away the masks of their masculinity and painfully reveal their vulnerabilities
What punctuates this production and makes it so captivating is Aline David’s stunning movement sequences which along with Bijan Sheibani’s assured direction creates a fluid, atmospheric piece of theatre which ebbs and flows building energy and letting it slip slowly away. It‘s complemented by Saml Blak’s sparse set, a central round revolve which gives the production a clear uncluttered feel, with no props other than a couple of bicycles which are used along with a workout session to cement the brother’s connection through physicality, as words don’t come easily.
The Arrival is a poignant and perceptive piece of storytelling, which examines nature versus nurture and the gift of belonging. It’s beautifully acted and undercut with a rousing soundtrack, which in the space of 70 minutes takes you on a thrilling and painful emotional rollercoaster.
The Arrival at the Bush Theatre until 18 January 2020
The Bush Theatre
7 Uxbridge Rd,
London W12 8LJ
Phone: 020 8743 5050