About Behud (Beyond Belief)

Sunday 18th April 2010

Chetna Pandya in Behud. Photo: Robert Day
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How do you talk about an act of censorship that destroyed your best play? In one of the most notorious recent acts of artistic silencing, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s play Behzti (Dishonour) was taken off in December 2004 after violent protests by Sikh militants, offended by the fact that some of it was set in a Sikh temple. Now, in her new play, Behud (Beyond Belief), Bhatti tells the story of this drama, and she does it with a wonderful mix of dignity and theatrical verve. Obviously, she’s too savvy to use a bog-standard documentary form, but creates instead a series of stage metaphors that conjure up some of the emotions from that time, as well as some of the darkness. So we get a vivid impression of a playwright who keeps changing her mind, of the anxieties of actors, of the mixed motives of the protestors, and so on. And, yes, it’s also very good fun! With a great song from Archive. But one of my favourite moments occurs in the playtext — on the epigraph page, Bhatti quotes Picasso: “Art is the lie that reveals the truth.” So apt! And a great production by Soho Theatre’s Lisa Goldman…

© Aleks Sierz

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