Evening Conversations, Soho Theatre

by Laura Kressly

Sudha Buchar has had an extraordinary career as an actor, writer and producer. Other parts of her life are equally exciting – born in Tanzania to Indian parents, her early childhood was spent between East Africa and Asia before moving to the UK at age 11. Now 60 years old and long-settled in middle-class Wimbledon with a husband and two Gen-Z sons, she reflects on a vast range of topics in her stream-of-conscious monologue. Generational differences, race, feminism, and her neighbours are just a few of these that make up this chatty and reflective staged reading.

Buchar’s colourful anecdotes are engaging and witty, and she connects with her audience on a range of grounds. Some may find themselves relating more to her sons, whereas others nod agreeably at her baffling encounters with technology. Still more people see themselves in her experiences as a Brown woman in a white supremacist society, and there are those who identify with the proliferation ‘mum’ castings she attends. Whilst this piece may not be totally ‘universal’, it certainly has broad appeal.

This breadth of content is supported by her delivery and natural charisma. She chats and banters with confidence, though rather than delivering from memory she often refers to the elegant bound script in her hands. This makes the event particularly low-stake and intimate, as if she were reading from her memoirs. This refusal to make a show that fits neatly into a category of performance, along with an open admission at the start that the piece won’t follow any sort of usual story trajectory, makes it particularly interesting. It could also make it particularly frustrating – why are we here? What should we take away from this? And, why is it on stage rather than in, say, a book?

Though these questions go unanswered, there are still some great stories that are well-delivered. Buchar has had an extraordinary life and deserves to share it, but another form may better serve her.

Evening Conversations runs through 12 November.

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