A difficult lifestyle portrayed in The Old Globe

by David Dixon

Lata (Gita Reddy) and Atul Patel (Rachid Sabitri) enjoy fantastic onstage chemistry in “Rafta, Rafta...”, Courtesy of J. Katarzyna Woronowicz
Vina Patel (Mahira Kakkar) and Atul Dutt (Rachid Sabitri) enjoy fantastic onstage chemistry in “Rafta, Rafta...”, Courtesy of J. Katarzyna Woronowicz

Many young adults do not get along too well with both their parents and siblings. Despite this fact, some people are forced to live with their families when money is tight and they are not independent enough to move away. That is the case with Atul Dutt (Rachid Sabitri), one of the main characters in the Olivier Award winning comedy “Rafta, Rafta…”

Atul and Lata Patel (Gita Reddy) are an Indian couple who live in Bolton, England. Notwithstanding the fact that they are newly married, the two have to live in Atul’s family home. Though Atul gets along fine with his mother Lopa (Geeta Citygirl Chopra), his brother Jai (Ariya Ghahramani) is an obnoxious prankster and his father Eeshwar Dutt (Kamal Marayati) is a tyrannical egoist. Adding to their concerns, Atul and Lata have intimacy problems that that stem from peculiar and comedic circumstances.

A week before opening at The Old Globe Theatre, Marayati replaced actor Ranjit Chowdhry, who had to bow out because of health complications. Marayati is great in this role and his physical and verbal comedic timing makes him the life of the party. Chopra’s portrayal of Lopa is very different from her stage husband though. Lopa is an endearing, modest woman with a good sense of humor and loving affection for her family.

As a serious young husband, Sabitri is just right in his depiction of Atul and manages to sneak in some good one-liners every now and then. Reddy has a natural sweetness that is crucial to Lata, though she does boldly speak up for herself on several occasions.

“Rafta, Rafta…” is an enjoyable production, but sometimes plays things too safe. Complex issues brought up in the first act are solved fairly quickly by the conclusion. While the ending wraps things up a little too neatly, Marayati adds an emotional punch to the final scene when Eeshwar has a bittersweet revelation.

A problem with the script by Ayub Khan-Din, is that several of the supporting actors, including Lata’s parents, remain underdeveloped. Also, certain characters introduced in the opening wedding scene act in an entirely different manner when they reappear later in the show.

One example is Atul’s boss, Jivaj Bhatt (Amir Darvish). When the audience first meets him, he’s a funny guy who occasionally gives Atul a hard time, but in act two he’s a jerk who harshly and violently taunts Atul for no apparent reason. However, the Dutts and Lata do not have these types of disjointed character flaws because the writer devoted more time fully developing them.

Jonathan Silverstein’s production of “Rafta, Rafta…” is fairly lighthearted and pleasing in spite of its flaws. There are many laughs and universal truths that most family members can relate to. The audience roots for Atul and Lata because they are good people who deserve to be together, despite the absurd bedlam occurring around them.

Tickets and information about “Rafta, Rafta…” can be found at theoldglobe.com.