Kiln Theatre presented WHEN THE CROWS VISIT  By Anupama Chandrasekhar

By Asian World Columnist Riccha Grrover

‘When the Crows Visit’… a dark, hard-hitting play on the theme of a woman’s shades of contempt and cyclical nature of oppression, set in the backdrop of India… the storyline comes alive at the intimate Kiln Theatre London with actors extraordinaire #SoniRazdan #AyeshaDharker especially among all others, and as importantly artistic director #IndhuRubasingham’s direction that is so on point.  

Director Indhu Rubasingham; Designer Richard Kent; Lighting Designer Oliver Fenwick 

Composers and Sound Designers Ben & Max Ringham; Casting Director Briony Barnett have collaborates to create a winner of a theatre production which is a must watch piece of engaging theatre.  

The fantastic production opened on 29 October 2019 and it runs until 30 November 2019.  


…and all the sins of his father and his forefathers came out of his body, through the pores of his skin, in the form of crows. 


When a son returns home after being accused of a violent crime, a mother is forced to confront the ghosts of her past… when the crows visit. 


Inspired by true events in modern-day India, Anupama Chandrasekhar explores the themes of Ibsen’s Ghosts and the cyclical nature of oppression in a dark and thrilling world première. 


Indhu Rubasingham said, “I am thrilled to be working with such a talented cast on Anu’s new play. I first worked with Anu 12 years ago at the Royal Court. She had come through their brilliant international programme. In my opinion, she is the most important voice coming out of India and it is a real privilege to be directing and producing her new play here at Kiln Theatre.” 


Ayesha Dharkerreturns to Kiln Theatre toplay Hema – she previously appeared in White Teeth. Her theatre credits include The Island Nation (Arcola Theatre), Arabian Nights, Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (RSC), Anita and Me (Birmingham REP and Theatre Royal Stratford East), Dr Faustus (Bristol Old Vic), Bombay Dreams (West End and Broadway) and The Ramayana (National Theatre/Birmingham REP).  For television her credits include Indian Summers, Critical, The Indian Doctor, Little Crackers, Coronation Street (as series regular Tara Mandal), Doctor Who, Bodies, Waking the Dead, Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Heeand A Mouthful of Sky; and for film, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Anita and Me, Arabian Nights, Red Alert: The War Within, Mad Sad & Bad, Loins of Punjab Presents, Outsourced, Colour Me Kubrick, The Mistress of Spices. 


Bally Gill plays Akshay. For theatre, his credits include Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Coriolanus, Salome, Vice Versa, Always Orange, Fall of the Kingdom, Rise of the Foot Soldier (RSC), The Island Nation (Arcola Theatre), A Local Boy (Arts Theatre), Dinner with Saddam (Menier Chocolate Factory) and The Bureau of Lost Things (Theatre503). He received the Ian Charleson Award for his portrayal of Romeo.  


Mariam Haque plays Uma / Kavita. Theatre includes Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth (RSC), Home Truths(Cardboard Citizens/Bunker Theatre), Primetime (Royal Court Theatre), Diana of Dobsons (New Vic Theatre), Dara, Behind the Beautiful Forevers (National Theatre), Almost Near, Hurried Steps (Finborough Theatre), Twelve(Kali Theatre), Leon and the Place Between (Building Site Theatre Company/Unicorn Theatre), The House of Bilquis Bibi (Hampstead Theatre), Monster Under the Bed (Polka Theatre), Hearts and Mind (Khayaal Theatre) and Au Revoir les Enfants (European tour). For television, her work includes Flowers, Black Mirror, Shut up and Dance and Hunted; and for film Benjamin and Undercliff, Smear andThe Long Weekend. 


Asif Khan returns to Kiln Theatre to play Gopi / Inspector – he previously appeared in Multitudes and Handbagged (also UK tour). His other theatre work includes Paradise of the Assassins (Tara Arts), The Hypocrite (RSC/Hull Truck), Queen of the Nile (Hull Truck), Snookered (Bush Theatre/Tamasha), Love, Bombs and Apples (Kennedy Centre/Park Theatre), A Passage to India (Park Theatre), Tartuffe (Swan Theatre), Twelfth Night (National Theatre), The Snow Queen (Unicorn Theatre), Mixed up North (Out of Joint) and Kabaddi Kabaddi Kabaddi(Arcola Theatre). For television, his work includes Diana and I, Spooks, Doctor Who, The Dumping Ground, Dark Matters, Going Postal, Man Down, Stath Lets Flats and Bradford Riots; and for film, Love Type D.  


Aryana Ramkhalawon plays Ragini. Her theatre credits include The Funeral Director (Southwark Playhouse and UK tour), The Tempest, Swallows and Amazons, Much Ado About Nothing (Storyhouse/Grosvenor Park Rep Company), The Secret Seven (Storyhouse), Hijabi Monologues (Bush theatre), Devika, Ode to Leeds (West Yorkshire playhouse) and Glasgow Girls (National Theatre of Scotland UK tour). 


Paul G Raymond plays David. For theatre, his work includes Pity (Royal Court Theatre). For television, his credits include Black Mirror, Kiriand The Windsors. 


Soni Razdan plays Jaya.  Her theatre work includesThe Collector, Band Darwazeand Arms and the Man. For television, her credits include Jesus of Nazareth, Padosi,BuniyaadAur Phir Ek Din, This Way Up, Good Karma Hospital; and for film, 36 Chowringhee Lane, MandiSaaranshKhamosh, Such a Long Journey, Page 3, No Fathers in Kashmir, Yours Truly, Raazi.Razdan also directs and is currently developing a screen version of Manju Kapoor’s book Difficult Daughters, set around the time of Partition of India.   


Anupama Chandrasekhar’s plays include The Snow Queen (Trestle Theatre Company at Unicorn Theatre, India and UK tour), Disconnect (Victory Gardens Theatre, Chicago; San Jose Rep Theatre; Západočeské DivadloCheb, Czech Republic; German Premier Landes Theater, Linz and Royal Court Theatre), Free Outgoing (Traverse Theatre  and Royal Court Theatre), Acid (directed the play for The Madras Players, Chennai; Writer’s Bloc Festival of New Plays at Prithvi Theatre and NCPA, Mumbai), Whiteout (staged as part of Royal Court Theatre’s 50th Anniversary celebrations broadcast on BBC World Service), KabaddiKabaddi (Royal Court Theatre – staged as part of the International Season and at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival), Anytime, Anywhere(short play commissioned by Kimaaya and staged in Bangalore) Across Creation (Mellow Circle, Chennai), and Closer Apart (developed with The Madras Players as part of the British Council playwriting workshop). 


Artistic Director of Kiln Theatre Indhu Rubasingham’s work for the company includes Wife,HolySh!t, White Teeth, Red Velvet (which transferred to New York and later to the Garrick Theatre as part of the Kenneth Branagh Season) and Handbagged(winner of Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre – also West End, UK tour, Washington DC and New York). Other productions for Kiln Theatre include The Invisible Hand, A Wolf in Snakeskin Shoes, Multitudes, The House That Will Not Stand, Paper Dolls, Women, Power and Politics, Stones in His Pockets, Detaining Justice, The Great Game: Afghanistan, Fabulationand Starstruck. Other theatre credits include Ugly Lies the Bone, The Motherf**cker with the Hat (Evening Standard Award for Best Play), The Waiting Room (all National Theatre), The Ramayana (National Theatre/ Birmingham Rep), Belong, Disconnect, Free Outgoing,  Lift Off, Clubland, The Crutch and Sugar Mummies (Royal Court), Ruined (Almeida), Yellowmanand Anna in the Tropics (Hampstead Theatre), Secret Rapture and The Misanthrope (Minerva, Chichester), Romeo and Juliet (Chichester Festival Theatre ), Pure Gold (Soho Theatre), The No Boys Cricket Club and Party Girls (Theatre Royal Stratford East), Wuthering Heights (Birmingham REP), Heartbreak House (Watford Palace Theatre), Sugar Dollies andShakuntala(Gate Theatre), A River Sutra (Three Mill Island Studios), Rhinoceros (UC Davis, California) and A Doll’s House (Young Vic). Her production of The Great Wave is currently running at the National Theatre in a co-production with Kiln Theatre. 


In a shadowy mansion-house set, a family demonstrates how status, financial power and privilege can rescue from any threats to social reputation. There is an echo of Ibsen’s Ghosts, with a son like Akshay (Bally Gill) who has inherited his father’s streaks of violence towards women, and a mother, Hema (Ayesha Dharker), who with her fierce maternal instincts does all to protect her son at any cost.  


When the Crows Visit highlights the issue of systemic sexual assault in India bang on and in a painful way. The acting talent of the cast overall is eloquent and uber impactful so much so that the audiences felt transported and a part of the family turmoil on stage and appeared immersed in the scenes, compelling score of music, words and was almost impressed to feel that one was not in the middle of the protagonists’ life action. 


The play is set in an emotionally intense set where the story plays out-very precisely, passionately and perfectly enacted. Three cheers for this production and performance. 


The performance is immersive, intense and engrossing in every way. It’s definitely worth watching for its superb narrative and artistic excellence in how it’s staged with an exceptional cast ensemble with multi-dimensional talent reserve. The production quality is very high and the stage set is intimate and along with lighting, music, sound…it’s got all must watch elements! 


The theme of the production unfolds with precision in a gripping way. Overall this is a fantastic stage production and the storyline really came alive all very passionately and perfectly enacted punctuated with tense intensity so kudos to the director and actors. 



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