Soho Theatre London – until 15th October 2022
Reviewed by Emily Cliff
Fresh from the Fringe, Karim Khan’s moving coming-of-age story Brown Boys Swim has taken up residence at Soho Theatre until 15th October 2022. Set in Oxford, the play follows two South Asian boys as they navigate life, friendship, social prejudice and most importantly, learning to swim ahead of the most significant event of their teen years – Jess Denvers pool party.
Beautifully set, the LED-lit poolside was magnificent in its simplicity and ability to change the entire scene. From the harsh white lights of a clothing store to the gentle blues and greens of the community leisure centre pool. The glow of the lights reflected that of the water, lighting the whole theatre in a hum of blue and green. The ambience of the pool with splashes and indistinct chatter seemed to fill the stage adding to the atmosphere created by the lights and the chemistry between Mohsan (Anish Roy) and Kash (Varun Raj)
Supburbly written, the play tackles societal issues that are all too present in the current age. The comedic timing of the production was fantastic without it seeming too forced or put on. It was delightfully charming but also serious when it needed to be, seamlessly switching between the two without feeling too clunky. The interludes during the scene changes were brilliantly artistic, however, in some parts they felt like they went on a little too long. The pool scenes, however, were beautifully choreographed.
Each character is uniquely complex in their own right. Kash can be seen trying to fit in with everyone at school and make the most of his youth whereas Moshan can be seen as the level-headed future-driven character bound for Oxford University – playing it safe. The chemistry between the two characters is fantastic, the bond between the two is one like brothers. From shared heritage to shared experiences of societal racism and Islamaphobia.
Charming and moving, this authentic coming-of-age story makes us examine the way we behave in order to comply to societal standards and how ultimately harmful that can be. This funny story is beautiful in every way, from the way it is written to the way it is performed, it certainly earned its standing ovation.