Written by acclaimed playwright, Anusree Roy, and directed by Nina Lee Aquino, Young People’s Theatre proudly presents the world premiere of Sultans of the Street, playing on the Mainstage as part of their forty-eighth season of operation.
Sultans of the Street is the story of Prakash (Ali Momen), Ojha (Colin Doyle), Mala (Mina James), and Chun Chun (Richard Lee) –four children from different social classes trapped in a world of begging, on the streets of Kolkata, India, under the control of the mysterious Aunty (Zorana Sadiq). Brothers Prakash and Ojha desire a world free of school, where they can fly kites whenever they want, while orphaned sister and brother, Mala and Chun Chun, dream of receiving an education and discovering their full potential. In the world of the play where “rich kids don’t talk to poor kids”, the quartet must find a way to get along, work together, and escape the servitude of Aunty, in order to set a course for a new life.
I was most impressed with the incredibly versatile set design by Camellia Koo. The set consists of a four-piece wall, covered in an array of different coloured and patterned fabrics. Each piece is able to rotate and transform into the different locales of each scene. Bits such as the chasing scene show the true capability and effectiveness of this set, leaving the audience wide-eyed in awe. Also worth mentioning is the simple, yet successful lighting design by Michelle Ramsay, in which warm lights are reflective of the hot Indian sun, and Christmas-like twinkly lights woven through the ceiling add a perfect touch of ambiance and hopefulness to the night sky.
The show not only addresses class struggles, but also caste struggles among the two pairs of children, which they must overcome. The complete dedication to playfulness from the adult actors –from the stutter of Ojhah to the constant questioning of Chun Chun– left me truly believing I was watching real children.
Sultans of the Street left me walking out of the theatre feeling hopeful and inspired. An uplifting tale of courage and unexpected friendship, this show provides valuable life lessons to be learned, and is a must-watch for Canadians, young and old alike.
Sultans of the Street is running on the Mainstage at Young People’s Theatre (165 Front Street East) until May 15th and is recommended for ages 8 and up. Tickets are $15-$24 + HST & service charges and can be purchased either online or at the Box Office. Visit www.youngpeoplestheatre.ca or call 416.862.2222 for more information.
photo credit: Cylla von Tiedemann
featured in photo: Richard Lee and Mina James