Indigo Giant at The Rep, Birmingham

Inspired by Dinabandhu Mitra's trail-blazing Indigo Mirror which shook colonial India: the similarly named Indigo Giant visits Birmingham Rep with an intriguing tale of love and revolution.

Indigo Giant at The Rep, Birmingham

Indigo Giant sheds light on a forgotten moment in British colonial history and is born out of a dialogue between British and Bangladeshi theatre-makers. The year is 1859, and in a field in Kanaipur, Bengal; indigo farmer Sadhu Charan (Diljohn Singh) has just married Kshetromani (Amy Tara) and despite living a very modest life, all is seemingly idyllic. But, the optimism of the young newlyweds soon begins to crumble with the arrival of a new and monopolising British Planter who seeks to control and restrict workers’ rights to keep up with the insatiable desire for indigo. Revolution follows as Sadhu, Kshetromani and the Bengali community rise up against their oppressors. 

The premise of the story is an interesting one. Indigo Giant plays a key and important role in bringing to light the atrocities committed by British planters and the revolution which this triggered. It is always interesting to engage with theatre that exposes moments in British history, as you leave with new and expanded knowledge. Though, whilst the subject matter itself was engaging, the production failed to become fully realised and unfortunately left me wanting more.

Apparent from the onset was the movement and physical theatre abilities of the ensemble. Though, this was not fully capitalised on, and left me confused about the form and intentions of the production. Despite being used only sparingly, this was one of the more enjoyable aspects. It was therefore a shame that this wasn’t threaded through Indigo Giant in its entirety, as it would have provided a necessary and engaging break from the dialogue heavy production. 

The script was quite weak in places, meaning that characters lacked depth and motivation for their actions. In some moments, particularly in scenes between Rose (Thomas King) and Kshetormani dialogue did play out naturally, but this was then broken by lines which felt too expository or out of place. This was a real shame as climactic moments in the production failed to impact, though, the actors in the two titular roles, were still impressive despite this.

With reshaping, Indigo Giant could be a great piece of theatre. Though, there is still much to enjoy from the subject matter of this production. You can catch Indigo Giant at The Rep, Birmingham until 16th March.

Header Image Credit: Indigo Giant by Komola Collective

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Elisha Pearce

Elisha Pearce Voice Reviewer

Elisha is a graduate of MA Theatre at the University of Lincoln. She has recently returned to her Staffordshire roots, where she reviews productions for Upper Circle Theatre and now, Voice Magazine at venues across the West Midlands. She is also a budding playwright and is currently developing her most recent play 'Elsie' which explores Alzheimers through surrealist theatre. Elisha is super excited to join the team at Voice Magazine and looks forward to seeing a range of boundary-pushing, contemporary performances.

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