Reviews are in for Chasing Hares at the Young Vic theatre in London.
Sonali Bhattacharyya‘s (Two Billion Beats) new play considers the power of storytelling in the struggle for a fairer world. A tale of resistance and dignity in the face of global exploitation, Chasing Hares is set between the UK and West Bengal and centres on a factory worker who writes a play about the injustices of factory conditions and the rumour of child exploitation .
The piece stars Ayesha Dharker (The Father), Zainab Hasan (Lotus Beauty), Scott Karim (Dracula), Saroja-Lily Ratnavel (Bravo Two Charlies) and Irfan Shamji (The Ipcress File, Hamlet).
The play, set between the UK and West Bengal, considers the power of storytelling in the struggle for a fairer world. Centred around a factory worker who also writes stories, when he writes a play about the injustices of factory conditions and rumours of child exploitation – is he ready to risk his future, his family and even his own life in his fight against injustice.
Directed by Milli Bhatia (seven methods of killing kylie jenner), the play features design by Moi Tran, lighting by Jai Morjaria, video design by Akhila Krishnan, sound by Donato Wharton, composition by Sarathy Korwar and movement direction by Chi San Howard.
Read a round-up of reviews from UK theatre press, below.
Chasing Hares runs until 13 August 2022 at The Young Vic theatre in London.
"Sonali Bhattacharyya’s drama about the erosion of workers’ rights in Bengal and Britain is powerful once it hits its stride"
"Initially, ‘Chasing Hares’ drags. Director Milli Bhatia doesn't find a convincing way of making Prab's elaborate animal fables feel gripping (a little light shadow puppetry doesn't cut it) and the play takes too long to set up its central moral dilemma. But in the second act, things start to fizz."
"Bhattacharyya attempts something bold here, by merging Indian folk theatre with contemporary idioms. Moi Tran’s dour, grey, spaceship-esque set design doesn't provide the colourful arena needed for the production to sing, and the moments where ‘Chasing Hares’ tries to get the audience chanting along fall a little flat. But even if it doesn't fully rouse the masses, this is still a thoughtful and thoroughly welcome contribution to the conversation around workers' rights, as our politicians try their best to erode them. "
"Factory drama moulds its own subversive power play"
"Sonali Bhattacharyya intriguingly exposes the exploitative dynamics of the global gig economy through the lens of a Bengali jatra theatre group"
"This drama about the gig economy and the workers trapped inside it plays out like a thriller. Sonali Bhattacharyya’s fast, witty script finds an original way to tell the global backstory of the zero-hours workforce, joining up the dots from child labour in West Bengal to unethical working conditions in Britain."
"The story has some too-neat parallels between West Bengal and the UK and it is perhaps too sentimental in its ending, but this is easily forgiven when weighed up against its emotional power and intelligence."
"Family duty and political zeal clash in this enlightening new play"
"Bhattacharyya’s play does wear its political heart on its sleeve, but this is no simplistic diatribe about inequality and it doesn't pretend to have all the answers."
"All five members of the cast are uniformly excellent"
"Chasing Hares is a convivial and enlightening night at the theatre despite its heartbreaking conclusion. "
"A fitfully fascinating study of compromise and coercion"
"At its best, Chasing Hares is a pacy, thrilling depiction of compromise and coercion. The second hour of the show — which is inspired, in part, by Bhattacharyya’s uncle’s experiences working at a Dunlop factory in Bandel, West Bengal — is involving and darkly amusing too."
"Generally the tone is well sustained, the staging sharp. There is exciting work in here. It’s just a shame that the show’s musings on the power of storytelling end up getting in the way of the power of its storytelling"
"Globalisation’s effect on an Indian factory makes for touching drama"
"It is a play that is unkempt in parts and would benefit from a little extra grooming. The subject matter is not new, yet comes across as pleasingly fresh. And the urgent speech at the end, in which Prab’s daughter Amba, boldly played by Saroja-Lily Ratnavel, speaks up for British workers, is spot on."
"Sonali Bhattacharyya’s new play asks searching questions about the gig economy, workers’ rights and the effectiveness of theatre in addressing social issues."
"As it is, some dialogue has to do too much heavy-lifting and so feels more schematic than organic. That’s a shame, as this is a vivid, ambitious and significant piece of theatre tackling a grievous, pressing issue"
"A family-inspired play with 'terrific performances'"
"Sonali Bhattacharyya's family-inspired play illuminates the terrible plight of factory workers in West Bengal and their subsequent move to the UK."