Santi and Naz at Edinburgh Fringe ★★★★
The Thelmas return to the Fringe with a brilliant two-hander exploring queer love, identity and loyalty in pre-partition India.
Borders and division are sadly as topical as ever, and this latest show from The Thelmas (whose Ladykiller we loved back in 2018) looks to the past to shine a light on the perils of the present. In doing so, they tackle a still-contentious act of forced separation in which the UK was a driving force: the partition of India.
As ever which such huge geopolitical issues, the human stories are the most engaging and illustrative of political failure. So it is here, as best friends Santi and Naz – one Sikh, one Muslim – negotiate the challenges of adolescence against an increasingly febrile societal backdrop.
Rose-Marie Christian and Karendip Phull are excellent as Santi and Naz respectively, while Guleraana Mir & afshan d’souza-lodhi’s script fizzes with energy. Themes of emerging sexuality and identity nestle alongside the wider political narrative, and though this is a play with several messages, Santi and Naz never feels preachy or patronising towards its Pleasance audience.
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