Multitudes


North American premiere.

By John Hollingworth.

Directed by Liz Carlin-Metz.

Produced by Rasaka Theatre & Vitalist Theatre

in association with the

International Voices Project.

At Victory Gardens upstairs Theatre, Chicago.

Cautionary tale of ethnic and religious bigotry in Britain foreshadows what could happen in America.

With all the bigotry and hate expressed by Trump toward Muslims including those who have assimilated in the USA, British playwright John Hollingsworth has penned a cautionary tale that exposes the conservative view of multiculturalism that believes that brown people, especially followers of  Islam, can never really be “British” even if they are born in the UK or have been there since childhood. The fear Englishman express from those of color and those who embrace Islam have started raising their ugly heads in Bradford, England.

Hollingworth’s drama is a tad difficult to embrace us due to the many short scenes followed by blackouts while the set  changes and furniture gets moved. But stay with this play since Hollingworth creates a sprawling series of actions that vividly dramatize the fear and untrustworthy actions of working class Brits toward Pakistani citizens.  Kash (Kamal Hans) has been in England since he was one year old. He is being vetted to run for Parliament by the Tories. He is a reasonable sort who believes that Pakistani immigrants both enjoy England and their religion but are true ‘Englishman.’

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But due to xenophobia from all the Middle East wars and terrorist that is on the rise in England, France and Belgium that finds Muslims raised in Europe leaving to fight for ISIS in the Middle East. These possible home-grown terrorists are a concern to the folks in Bradford. Kash is the voice of reason in the brown community but his mother-in-law Lyn (Liz Carlin Metz), a Tory party official, expresses her belief that Kash is not really British despite being raised here.

Things get more complicated for Kash as his girlfriend Natalie (Kelly Lynn Hogan), a Brit,  embraces Islam as a convert plus his daughter Qadira (Luisa Blanco) becomes a zealot Islam activist. Qadira joins the protest sit-in against the government.

In a series of action-paced scenes we see and hear all sides of the controversy. Can an migrant with a different religion ever be a ‘real’ Englishman even if they  are born and raised in Britain? Can fear and violence that Muslims experience from white Englishman force many to renounce their loyalties to England and force them to become exactly what the English fear about them?  Hollingworth takes no sides as he dramatizes how events can get a reasonable man to question their priorities and loyalty.

Multitudes is a timely play, especially with all the xenophobia stirred up by Trump during our current election cycle. What Multitudes demonstrates happened in England could happen here if fear of those who look different and pray different are allowed to be discriminated against. Multitudes reminds us that we need to cherish our differences NOT be fearful; that diversity is strength. That lesson always needs to be expressed so that the bigots can never prevail.

Recommended.

Tom Williams.

Date Reviewed: October  21, 2016.

For more info checkout the Multitudes page at theatreinchicago.com.

At Victory Gardens Biograph, 2433 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614, www.rasakatheatre.com, call  773-871-3000, tickets $30, $25 senors, $20 students, Thursdays thru Saturday at 8 pm, matinees on Saturday at 4pm and Sunday at 3:30, running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with intermission, through November 13, 2016.

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