THEATRE REVIEW: Brown Boys Swim at Soho Theatre (Upstairs)

By Aline Mahrud

WORTH A LOOK?: ***1/2 RUNTIME: 60 minutes (no interval)

WHEN?: Thursday 29 September, runs to 15 October 2022

Young Muslims Mohsen (pictured left above) and Kash (pictured right) are best friends and decide to learn to swim when they are invited to classmate Jess Denver’s pool party.

  • Read on for reasons including how this is very funny but boasts a sharp shift in tone

Brown Boys Swim is a coming of age comedy about growing up different and both trying to fit in but also strike out and find your own route in life.

Set in Oxford, Anish Roy’s Mohsen dreams of being accepted at his prestigious hometown university while Varun Raj’s Kash is less studious and preoccupied by thoughts of the opposite sex carried off with a scene-stealing swagger.

This two-hander directed by John Hoggarth makes the most of its minimal scenery which includes a box decorated with swimming pool tiling and 2 benches.

We join Mohsen and Kash in the town’s swimming pool as they are literally out of their depth and do their best to both blend in and learn to do what they came there to do.

Additional scenes expose us to the sort of everyday racism that they face including being detained by a store detective as they debate whether to buy Speedos for their party and an overheard conversation in a library when the reason for the pool party invitation becomes clearer.

But author Karim Khan does show us elements of comedy as we are drawn into what may be an unfamiliar world of prayer, exotic-sounding food, Bollywood-style dancing and different journey taking ritual.

Over it all hangs the story of a young man who died in the river while struggling to swim and there’s even a graffiti-ed tribute to him near the spot where he lost his life.

A hit at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, Brown Boys Swim displays a brave shift in tone as it nears it conclusion and, while we enjoyed splashing about in it, it ultimately attempted to do something quite brave which definitely floated.

  • Main picture via Facebook courtesy Soho Theatre Tickets
  • Have you heard any of these songs or seen any of these shows? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
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