Midnight's Children

MARK NICHOLLS The Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Midnight's Children is a masterpiece that reflects the genius of Salman Rushdie's work, painting the 20th century history of India on the canvas of stage and screen.

MARK NICHOLLS

The Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Midnight's Children is a masterpiece that reflects the genius of Salman Rushdie's work, painting the 20th century history of India on the canvas of stage and screen.

A superb performance by the 20-strong cast of British-Asian actors, adapting themselves into 100 different characters, is complemented by screen imagery and archive footage that sets the story into a context and adds depth and dimension.

At three hours long, it is a marathon of a production, led by the stamina of Zubin Varla in the lead role of Saleem Sinai. Yet it is accessible, perhaps more so at the Theatre Royal, Norwich, than on the bare expanse of stage at the Barbican, where it first appeared earlier this year.

The intimacy of the venue compresses the breadth of the performance into a digestible visual feast.

Midnight's Children tells the story of Saleem Sinai – born at midnight on August 15, 1947 – the precise moment of India's independence.

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Saleem relays the story of Midnight's Children to his girlfriend Padma (Sameena Zehra). The production also features Kulvinder Ghir, known to TV audiences for his parts in Holby City and Goodness Gracious Me.

Above all, it is the adaptability of the cast, the way they interact with one another and with the visuals played out on a screen above, that drives this performance. It is all at once a lesson in the modern history of the Indian sub-continent, a taste of its culture and wonderful theatre.

Anyone who has read, or attempted, Midnight's Children knows it is a challenging book, but the interpretation by the RSC – with Rushdie's support and assistance – brings those complex pages to life.

This is “must-see” theatre, the performance is colourful, humorous, at times mesmerising and ultimately irresistible.

t Midnight Children continues until Saturday May 31. Box office: 01603 630000.

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