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Review: Bollywood inspired play Dishoom! makes you laugh while confronting serious topics

PUBLISHED: 10:00 27 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:46 27 September 2018

Bilal Khan and Gurkiran in The Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch and Rifco Theatre's production Dishoom! Picture: Richard Lakos.

Bilal Khan and Gurkiran in The Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch and Rifco Theatre's production Dishoom! Picture: Richard Lakos.

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It’s a turbulent time for the characters of a Bollywood inspired play at Queen’s Theatre.

Gurkiran Kaur and Bilal Khan in The Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch and Rifco Theatre's production Dishoom! Picture: Richard Lakos.Gurkiran Kaur and Bilal Khan in The Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch and Rifco Theatre's production Dishoom! Picture: Richard Lakos.

Set in the 1970s, with the threat of an oncoming march by the National Front, the backdrop to Queen’s Theatre and Rifco Theatre Company’s play, Dishoom! provides a troubling setting for the characters to work through.

Dishoom! tells the story of Simon, a young man who has just finished school and is trying to work out what to do with the rest of his life, how to escape the confines of his home and his Bibi who is determined to make him walk, despite his disability.

On top of this, Simon’s friends feel like social outcasts as they too try to work out a plan after the summer and how to stop their friend, Keith from being lured into a violent political group.

Dishoom! confronts many serious themes, with Simon battling the shame of his Bibi and at times even his friends who sometimes fall into the trap of pitying him instead of respecting him as their equal.

Seema Bowri and Bilal Khan in The Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch and Rifco Theatre's production Dishoom! Picture: Richard Lakos.Seema Bowri and Bilal Khan in The Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch and Rifco Theatre's production Dishoom! Picture: Richard Lakos.

At the same time, the play has many hilarious moments, and I often found myself laughing out loud with the audience.

Simon’s cousin, Baljit introduces him to the Bollywood classic, Sholay.

Inspired by the film’s dynamic duo, Jai and Veeru, Simon and Baljit discover their inner superheroes.

At times I got lost in the scenes where the characters reenacted scenes from the film. If you haven’t seen Sholay then it can be quite confusing at times, and the transitions from the loud Bollywood music to the quieter scenes in the English streets were slightly jarring.

Georgia Burnell, Gurkiran Kaur, James Mace, Elijah Baker and Bilal Khan in The Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch and Rifco Theatre's production Dishoom! Picture: Richard Lakos.Georgia Burnell, Gurkiran Kaur, James Mace, Elijah Baker and Bilal Khan in The Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch and Rifco Theatre's production Dishoom! Picture: Richard Lakos.

Bilal Khan, who himself was born with cerebral palsy, makes his stage debut in the lead role of Simon.

He works well with his co-star Gurkiran Kaur who plays cousin Baljit, as their convincing friendship provides many of the heartwarming scenes in the play.

To see a young, Asian actor in a wheelchair take on a lead role is sadly rare. Dishoom! is a successful example of why we need more diverse theatre to provide us with cultural stories beyond our own experiences.

Dishoom! plays at Queen’s Theatre from September 25 - 29.

Elijah Baker, Gurkiran Kaur and Bilal Khan in The Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch and Rifco Theatre's production Dishoom! Picture: Richard Lakos.Elijah Baker, Gurkiran Kaur and Bilal Khan in The Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch and Rifco Theatre's production Dishoom! Picture: Richard Lakos.

To book tickets contact 01708 443333 or visit queens-theatre.co.uk.

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