Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Laughter at Rafta, but the Plot Is Too Thick with Old Ideas

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Laughter at Rafta, but the Plot Is Too Thick with Old Ideas

Article excerpt

FIRST NIGHT Rafta, Rafta

Lyttelton, National ***

THE NATIONAL is about the last place you would expect to find a stage equivalent of a television soap opera

an Indian one, with a touch of Bollywood.

That, though, is virtually what Ayub Khan-Din's amusing, farcical comedy about a young bridegroom who fails to rise to the occasion for six long weeks, at first proves to be.

Khan-Din has hit upon the idea of modernising All In Good Time, a forgotten, early Sixties comedy by north of England playwright Bill Naughton.

Director Nicholas Hytner's production brims with social colour, but cannot disguise the fact that the hilarious comedy of morals andmanners degenerates into an accusatory, confessional drama, with a happy ending imposed.

Khan-Din's thoroughly modern makeover does, I admit, enjoy a nice comic logic. When it comes to sex, and it takes just a few minutes to take the first of its sniggering, nudge-nudge appearances, the cultural affinities between Naughton's Sixties working-class family in Bolton and Ayub Khan-Din's 21st century Indian equivalents are revealed.

"Upstairs? Nothing's happened upstairs? In your bedroom? On your bed ... You mean he hasn't got around to it yet?" the bride's mother, Lata, asks her wretched daughter, Rokhsaneh

Ghawam-Shahidi's Vina. Each question betrays a nice combination of prudish embarrassment and consternation.

It is characteristic of how everyone deals with sex or the lack of it

in Rafta, Rafta. Almost nothing is said up front. Naughton's northerners suffered problems similar to those agitated Indians when up against the facts of life.

Khan-Din, who made his name with the film East Is East, shows a flair for situation comedy but becomes strait-jacketed by Naughton's old-fashioned plot. …

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