8.0
Score

Final Verdict

Both Dundan and Ahmed characterise their roles brilliantly. They both have me invested in them. Sympathising with their plights whilst at the same time bringing their individual humour to the play and their circumstances.

The Knot – Old Red Lion Theatre

I had been invited to press night at the Old Red Lion Pub and Theatre in Islington to see The Knot written and directed by Dan Daniel. The show has transferred from its successful run at the Tristan Bates Theatre, the show received a great audience and critical reception. The Knot is performed by Caolán Dundon and Aiyaz Ahmed  based on the  experiences of the actors themselves.

Aiden is trying to bring his Argentinian fiancé to the UK, but their relationship is cracking under the weight of bureaucracy. After twenty years of marriage, Imran has just discovered his wife cheating and now has to endure a lengthy divorce process. Two men – different in age, ethnicity, and personality – face parallel struggles when it comes to making their marriages work.

The staging was simple, a couple of blocks used for seating of the characters, a circle in the corner of the stage of which the actors stood to show they were on a phonecall. The circle lighting up as an Alexa would, while the room darkened around to centralise them on a spotlight. A very clever introduction – telling us to make sure our phones were off to the first phone call of the play for Dundon to converse.

This play didn’t feel like a play at all, but that of these two people talking to me about their experience, telling me their story and struggles. Which i loved. It helped to make it personal and in such a small venue left you focused on them and not distracted by anything else.

While this play was deemed to have these two characters facing parallel struggles, i found it more to reflect the hope, the plans of an exciting future in Aiden’s relationship in obvious efforts to bring his fiance to the UK and Imrans of which i saw a man that by the end makes a choice based on the love they have shared. I felt two Love stories at two different stages of life.

Imran and his wife had to defy the rules, not by the government but by family. Separated by religion and race, culture forbid them from being together. Ghosted by family for the choice and threatened for it. They lived on. However believing in their relationship pushed forward and made it work up until at least this point. His wife losing faith and cheating maybe due to Imrans belief in his workman sales ethic of repetition or as we learn at the start his analogy of billing and invoicing to sex from your partner. Despite obvious anger, an apology near the end from someone else maybe helping to change his mind about where his future lay and what he really wants.

Aiden the actor, the dreamer and the romantic. Dictated to by the state had to abide and compromise if he was to get what he wanted. Camila his love. Succumbing to a normal career, doing what he needs to. After not getting what they want initially and the distance becoming maybe untenable, we see suggestions made to him originally thinking for his own benefit may in fact be for someone elses and the hope we see see at the start begins to fade when life gets in the way of love.

I felt for Imran the most, being a shy person and probably only ever wanting to do the right thing and work hard and ensuring he could provide unwittingly led to the event that would create this situation. Aidens although sympathetic was maybe like having the shoe on the other foot as we learn about his previous relationship and how they fell apart. While no ones fault showed one was more invested than the other by the end.

Both Dundan and Ahmed characterise their roles brilliantly. They both have me invested in them. Sympathising with their plights whilst at the same time bringing their individual humour to the play and their circumstances.  Aidens joke about acting and ending up in a play in a small theatre above a pub very poignant as that was this very play brought a laugh to the audience.

The intertwining monologues were seamless and it was easy to switch from story to story.

If you are single  -this will give you a viewpoint on love. If you are engaged or married you may or will see similarities to that of your own and the efforts or struggles you go through.

The Knot was a thoroughly enjoyable play that was a pleasure to watch, and whilst for me they were at different stages of love and maybe not as parallel as previewed for me personally, i was immersed into the truths about each relationship being told themselves.

Running until 3rd July – Grab a ticket!

Venue Old Red Lion, 418 St John St, Islington, London EC1V 4NJ
Tickets £15 (Full price) / £13 (Concession) / £11.50 (Preview) £8 (Student Matinee, June 26th and July 3rd)
Box Office Old Red Lion https://www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk/the-knot.html, 0333 012 4963
Relaxed performances June 22nd & June 29th, 3.00pm
Age Range 12+
Running Time 95 mins (incl. interval)

Thanks for reading,

Aaron Whittington

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