by Sabo Kpade
Until a criteria on who is British is agreed upon, the question “who is British?” may never be fully answered. Vinay Patel’s one-man play True Brits, set in the years between the 7/7 bombings and the 2012 Olympics, is the story of Rahul, a young British-Asian played with conviction by David Mumemi.
Before the 7/7 bombings, Rahul rarely questions his Britishness. After the unfortunate event, the rise in anti-Muslim sentiments in some parts of British society marks him out as suspect or a focal point of hatred. For a young man like Rahul, this is not only disappointing but is a sort of betrayal by the same people with whom he shares a heritage.
All this is told in a narrative full of very funny anecdotes and piercing observations about a once apparently unitary but now fractured society caused by the devastating actions of a handful of people from a minority group.
It shares the same themes with many coming-of-age stories – pivotal early life experiences that are smoothed over the years by time and humour. It is a deceptively easy winning formula. Poorly done, it is a bore, but written and performed with great warmth, as in True Brits, it is a triumph.
It may be a monologue, but by the end of the play you do feel you have been introduced to a community because the people in Rahul’s life – his parents, friends and girlfriend – and the world he has painted are highly memorable.
True Brits is bound to be a highlight of the Vault Festival.
True Brits runs until 22 February at the Vault Festival, London.
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Sabo Kpade’s stories have been published in Verdad, Glasschord, The Writer’s Room, Sable and Gertrude Press. His play Have Mercy On Liverpool Street was staged by Talawa Theatre Company. He is currently at work on his first novel Anyone’s Ghost.