An Adventure: A Critical Essay by Pamela Vera

Vinay Patel’s An Adventure chronicles the love story of Jyoti and Rasik through the decades,across continents, cultures and notably the Partition of India and fall of the British Empire.
Patel’s omission of a British perspective from the play is powerful, ensuring that play is effective in giving a raw and uncensored view of the financial, psychological and emotional impacts of British colonisation and imperialism. An an important portrayal considering the arguably rose-tinted, washed over versions in the media that gloss over Britain’s role.
The exclusion of white characters mean that Patel could have easily represented the main characters, symbols of oppressed and suppressed of British colonialism as grouping together, with one common view and perspective. However, Patel does not, boldy showing the tense dynamics and clashing perspectives to add the authenticity to the narrative and character development. Audiences can empathise with Jyoti, Rasik and David’s individual, choices and stances, as Patel cleverly drives the narrative by weaving historical contexts seamlessly without portraying any of the characters as protagonists or antagonists. All of which brought to life by the brilliant acting of the lead characters and their chemistry.
Patel’s effortlessly clever and witty dialogue helps the audiences to connect with the story through juxtapositions; the historical complexity and richness with the mundanity of domestic life, the heaviness of the play is balanced, by the humour. The latter being a much-welcomed addition, giving the audiences a breather, and a chance to process all of the brutal and hard themes, that at times, can feel like an over layering of complex political and social issues.
However, there is an understanding as to why the play boldly confronts such themes. For example, a scene where Jyoti’s daughter asks her mother ‘Do they still spit on you? Because they spit on me’ is jarring, hard to hear, but ultimately important as it’s a present day issue, highlighting how, though things change in life, some stay the same.
The play to an extent, foreshadows future issues; in the final act, where Jooty and Rasik travel back to Kenya to visit David decades later at his restaurant. When offering a drink, David comments that ‘it is very popular with the Chinese’, strongly alluding to Africa’s ever growing trade with China, where there is criticism that it’s a form of neo-colonialism. If there was to be An Adventure Part II, there is a strong feeling that this would be the narrative, leaving room to explore David’s character at greater detail as well as the history of the Mau Mau uprising, Britain’s dark and disturbing past of Mau Mau concentration camps and the scandals of covering it all up.
For a play that spans through a lifetime, you respect its ambition. Patels’ poetic dialogue, emphasised by the lighting and set design, create visual and sensory acoustics that are key for a successful delivery of its core message and themes. With David’s monologue mid play being the most striking of all, where his emotional detailing of the Kenyan struggle for Independence are mirrored by his slow cadence and raking of the soil ‘Is it justice having to buy back land that is ours?’
Whilst the play is commonly accepted as a love story, justice and its meaning one of the main and major motifs throughout the play, Raski proclaims ‘Justice is certain’ in contrast to David’s belief that ‘Justice isn’t certain, it’s for the taking’. This is thought provoking contrast, is for the audience to reflect on, and one still to be answered by society.

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