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Tara Theatre, London
CONCEIVED to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the birth of Bangladesh in 1971, Dawaat is a moving playlet by three women of Bangladeshi heritage, centred around a divorcee (Leesa Gazi) and her grown-up girl (Halema Hussain) who are trying to come to terms with the daughter’s imminent departure from Britain to the US, where she has secured a dream job.
Real tears are shed by Gazi and Hussain, and there’s a heart-warming sense of tenderness in the simple moments they share, making food together and indulging in mutual sari-dressing as they prepare for a dawaat, or feast, while trying to accept that they will soon be parted.
In the background, or sometimes centre stage, Sohini Alam plays another mother figure, this time representing Bangladesh herself.
Singing traditional Bengali songs with a modern slant, Alam appears almost to sprinkle magic dust over mother and daughter, bringing them to the realisation that “watching the birds fly from the nest is also the story of Bangladesh” and that the spirit of the homeland “will accompany them to every corner and on every adventure.”
When the pair finally reconcile themselves to their fate, the stage – a circular dais in the centre of the theatre – becomes a large dinner table, where, in a parting act, the dawaat they have been preparing is dished out to selected members of the audience.
The ceremony adds an extra sense of touching cosiness to a performance in which, despite its homespun air, the acting, singing and direction (by Abduk Shayek) are highly professional and emotionally affecting.
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