Octopus

Intelligent, funny and thought provoking theatre at The Warren. Octopus presented shades of Hanif Kureshi’s insightful wit and sharp irony about race and “Britishness” in this refreshing and dynamic production.

The play lifts the veil on what our own hidden prejudices might be, but it’s done with warmth and humour

Three women are waiting to be interviewed in an assessment process which will determine how British they are. Scheherazade, who “looks kind of Middle Eastern”, embodies a radical punk attitude as she struggles to make a living as an artist. Played with a dynamic verve and endearing pathos by Dilek Rose, it is she who gives a title to their shared predicament of being “all mixed up, one leg something and one leg something else”, like an octopus.

Sarah is the only obviously white candidate. Played with real skill and observation by Samara MacLaren, Sarah is convinced she will be the exception in the group as she is obviously thoroughly British i.e. White. She delivers some of the most cringeworthy lines as she struggles to convince the other two obviously non-white women that she is totally liberal and open minded. Some audience members audibly gasped as she stumbled her way through a shopping list of items that slowly revealed her prejudices.

Sara, who “looks kind of Asian” is initially cool and reserved, convinced that her status and salary will exempt her from a further interview with immigration. Played with expert pitch and timing by Alexandra D’Sa, she finds her position slowly undermined as her story unfolds.

The writer, Afsaneh Gray, has presented us with a perfectly balanced cast of characters, each one carrying equal weight as if to emphasise further the play’s underlying message of equality. The three women begin to realise as they go through the blank faced, inhuman process of having their lives examined by a total stranger, that they have far more in common than what might initially appear to separate them.

It’s done with great skill and empathy, both by the writer and the three actors as they deftly swap roles, and bring us to the edge of what’s bearable to look at in this post-Brexit era.

The play lifts the veil on what our own hidden prejudices might be, but it’s done with warmth and humour allowing us laugh at our own failings as we struggle to come to terms with what happened after June 23rd 2016.

Expect some surprises!

Reviews by Adrienne Thomas

The Warren: Theatre Box

Fred Strangebone's Freakshow

★★★★
The Warren: Studio 3

The Performance

★★★★
The Warren: Studio 2

Octopus

★★★★
The Purple Playhouse Theatre

Black Dog Emporium

★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Three women have been called in for assessment. Sara looks kind of Asian. Scheherazade kind of Middle Eastern. Sarah is kind of white. But how British are they? Fresh from a critically acclaimed run at the Edinburgh Fringe and a sell-out transfer to London’s Theatre503, ‘Octopus’ is a post-Brexit satire that explores what it’s like to be treated as a foreigner in your own land... and the power of punk. “Raises the hairs on the back of your neck... laugh-out-loud funny” (The Times). “Inspired” (The Stage). “Couldn’t be more topical” (Broadway Baby).