A one-woman show has its own stereotypes. Sudha Bhuchar smashes them and many others. But then, some also get reinforced.
Bhuchar takes the audience on a journey of her strife and struggle, anchored in conversations had with her sons. She touches upon ideas of mixed identity (for both, her and her sons), being a middle-aged Asian woman in the entertainment industry, intergenerational trauma, the socio-political climates she’s lived through and the current generation’s outlook towards the world and life. These aren’t topics unheard of but what makes it interesting is Bhchar’s performance. She is a fabulous actor, no doubt, and her 39 years of experience clearly reflects in her delivery. She effortlessly reads the room and builds an intimate connection with the audience, making them feel right at home; an evening conversation, lounging in her living room with old friends – and the cabaret-style seating adds well to this intimate vibe. Although seated on a chair for most part, her energy carries through vividly, throughout the monologue.
The show is a stand up comedy in a sit down fashion – with some punchlines that have the audience roaring with laughter and others that don’t quite land. As engaging as Bhuchar’s naturalistic performance is, the writing meanders and doesn’t end up anywhere. Quite at the outset, Bhuchar explains that there is no storyline or plot – but such a creative decision, if it did add value to the piece, wouldn’t need to be explained in the first place. Granted that the show is meant to be an easy-going ‘evening conversation’ but the fact is that it isn’t, it’s a show that a ticket-paying audience has come to watch, calls for a more central focus and clearer journey.
While the overall content fizzled out in the vastness of topics, there are some lovely moments of detailed description that bring alive the smells and sights of Bhuchar’s childhood. She attempts to make these universally appealing but those who share her ethnicity would get the most out of it. Bhuchar herself, however, is a delight to watch and hear – and that in itself makes for an enjoyable evening.
Evening Conversations runs until 12th November 2022 and tickets can be found at https://sohotheatre.com/shows/evening-conversations-written-performed-by-sudha-bhuchar/#pricing-availability
Reviewer: Aditi Dalal
Reviewed: 9th November 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★