Steven & Sufea Review: True Colours at The Lantern Theatre Liverpool

ltl_logoReview by Steven Hyland
A tragic bromance wrapped in the guise of social frictions in modern day Yorkshire, the story of Albert and Janade serves as a reminder of the lack of understanding that so often underpins prejudice. The doomed courtship is intrinsic to the telling of this tale.
Albert, the stereotypical ignorant old timer who gets his news from the Daily Mail, requires a nurse to visit him once a week due to a back problem that hinders his walking. To his horror, he is provided with not only a man, but a man of Pakistani heritage. Janade is of course the other end of the spectrum, a humble and patient Muslim with a desire to make people feel better.
They fall in love so quickly that the foundation for their relationship was never going to be completely secure, considering the initial incompatibility. In the process Albert learns that there are differences between Pakistanis and Indians, and many similarities between him and Janade.
I couldn’t quite grasp the relevance of the mystery style music that accompanied the change of scenes. However, it was the very minute and unusual elements of this play that kept me hooked, such as when Albert would touch his top lip with his tongue when being stubborn. Something that has niggled at me, though, was Janade’s insensitivity to the circumstances in the final scene seemed wholly out of character. It left me with something to mull over rather than accept and agree with, which was ultimately the triumph of this show, though I don’t think that particular aspect was the intended thinking point.
The play is an observation rather than something from which to gain a greater insight, that is unless you are stuck with heavily prejudiced preconceived ideas of Muslims and other minorities. Alas, the people who would benefit most from watching it are extremely unlikely to take any notice of the play in the first place; their ignorance is something that you would doubt they would question unless forced into the situation without a means of escape, as Albert was.
Review by Sufea Mohamad Noor
The perception of Muslims and the Pakistani community as well as the outdated awareness of certain older generations in Britain are put into focus in a surprisingly easy-to-watch play. True Colours explores the subject of modern British society by touching upon several topics such as relationships, religion, prejudice and justice. True Colours, however, does not put the audience in an awkward position analysing sensitive issues in order to culminate your own opinion of the topics presented.
The living room is a personal space which projects an individual’s characteristics and this particular comfort zone in which True Colours is set in is a perfect projection of its owner. Set in Albert’s living room, he asks Janade about being a Pakistani and in the wider context, his way of life as Muslim. As their conversations progressed, both men become aware of the similar challenges that they face. The living room is a domestic space which acts as a microcosm of the British Isle, home to both Albert and Janade regardless of their ethnic backgrounds. The very fact that these conversations are taking place in a house shows that the challenges apply to all of us who regard Britain as our home.
Albert initially disliked Janade but he did not know the exact reason why. However, he becomes aware of his ignorance, confessing that he doesn’t know what he thought.
“I don’t know what I thought myself” – Albert
Being aware of his ignorance encouraged Albert to seek information through Janade as his source of information. Awareness and to a certain degree, acceptance is portrayed through physical mobility. Showing the link between body and mind, Albert gains a new breath of life when his physicality improved as he opened up to cultures and lifestyles different from his.
Despite the fact that he lacks awareness, Albert is a character you cannot hate. Paul Baxter’s portrayal of the old man cannot get any more perfect than it already is! Sid Akbar Ali emits a feeling of rigidity, although I’d like to think of this as Janade’s uncertainty in responding to Albert’s behaviour. The two characters deliver a humorous dynamic that would keep you entertained despite the issues that lay their conversations.
Director Adam Hughes expressed that “theatre is a place that can alter people’s perceptions and we can certainly hope to achieve this with True Colours”. No one will admit to be prejudiced and when that person is aware of it, he will make an effort to change his ways. For someone to make the effort to change and at the end of the day accept that he is prejudiced definitely has altered my perception of human behaviours. I recognise the possible existence of such behaviour; nonetheless I am not sure if this is the right message to convey. I know that a happy ending is far too obvious but Hughes surely must not think that admitting the naked truth of being prejudiced is acceptable. And on that note, I feel that True Colours is a very enjoyable play that sadly has missed to give justice to the issues that it set out to address.