Khandan, Royal Court, review: 'Shrewdly observed tragicomedy'

 

A decade ago, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti's play Behzti, which depicts rape in a Sikh temple, sparked such violent protests that it was withdrawn on the grounds of public safety.

There's nothing inflammatory, though, about her latest piece, Khandan, which has now transferred from Birmingham Rep's Studio in a beautifully acted and focused production by Roxana Silbert. 

The play is a shrewdly observed tragicomedy about the tensions between two generations of a family that came here from the Punjab in the late 1960s. 

The widowed matriarch Jeeto (a domineering yet subtly sensitive Sudha Bhuchar) dreams of retiring to her native land but her plans are jeopardised by her ambitious son Pal (Rez Kempton) who has inherited his father's taste for Johnny Walker as well as the family shop and wants to sell up and cash in on the thriving new market in care homes for elderly Asians. 

That such a boom exists is itself telling of the shift away from family values towards blinkered individualism that the play explores. 

Lauren Crace is very touching as Pal's white wife – desperate for a baby and, in her eagerness to be accepted, more Indian than the Indians. 

The plotting does not quite steer clear of cliché but the play has a humane breadth of sympathy and a powerfully ambivalent attitude towards the liabilities of legacy and the sustaining strength of clans.

To June 28; 020 7565 5000

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