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Akram Khan's Chotto Desh Review

Chotto Desh (literally ‘small homeland’) is a multicultural dance performance set in Bangladesh and Britain.  The sole performer is Akram Khan who manages to hold the stage with only a couple of props and an animation sequence which lasts about ten minutes.  He plays a young man who loves to dance but has a challenging relationship with his well-meaning but controlling father.  The supporting characters of the father and grandmother are never seen on stage – we only hear them speak on voiceovers.

 

Although it took time to build momentum, the performance soon developed into a captivating story of inter-generational conflict.  What I loved about the performance was that I was torn between feeling the frustrations of the invisible father while also empathising with the son trying to follow his dream.

 

Having written this review a few days after the show, I almost feel that the father and grandmother were on stage.  It’s a huge feat to create such three dimensional characters by only allowing us to hear their voices.  The tension between father and son is clear and the bond that the central character has with his grandmother is portrayed beautifully.

 

The animation sequence was the highlight in my opinion.  Khan dances behind a transparent screen with simple line drawing animation running of forests and demons.  It is truly magical.

 

The sequence during which Khan playfully paints a face onto the top of his head is genius and seemed to delight both the adults and the children in the audience.

 

All in all, I would highly recommend this family show.  I left the theatre wondering if I make some of the parenting mistakes Khan’s father made.  After seeing Chotto Desh, I would like to think I will make more of an effort to allow my children to pursue their own dreams.  Chotto Desh changed me in a small way which I think is a great indicator of what an impressive performer Khan is.

 

Usmaa Choudry