The Wild Woods, Bradford – 26th October 2016. Reviewed by Dawn Smallwood
An empty disused building, once occupied by Marks and Spencers, has been transformed into a hi-tech contemporary arts space. Freedom Studios presents Tajinder Singh Hayer’s North Country and this is a new play currently receiving its world premiere.
Set in an intimate central space, the play is about three teenagers who survive the worldwide plague which has decimated the world’s population. Harvinder (Kamal Khan), Nusrat (Natalie Davies) and Alleyne (Philip Duguid-McQuillan) share their stories of survival and challenges they and their community face. They are constantly faced with making crucial decisions particularly when their cultural backgrounds and traditions are at stake.
The prologue begins when Harvinder narrates about an old Polish man being rushed into hospital but he unfortunately dies and the deadly plague begins to spread. Then the audience sees this sudden plunge of apocalyptic like darkness which changes Bradford and its communities. Now the three teenagers begin their quest as survivors from September 2017.
It is fitting that the play is set in Bradford with its familiar references being echoed throughout. Under the direction of Alex Chisholm, North Country represents what Bradford was and is known for. Bradford had a thriving industrial past but the city hasn’t been the same since its industrial decline and more so with its recession since 2008. The industrial heydays brought migrant workers to the city’s factories and mills, particularly those from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and thus creating the city’s diverse population. A spirit of resilience is shown among the characters and their determination to survive.
The play may have a science fiction twist to it but the stories shared certainly address the economical and social issues today and one seek their identity in order to fit into somewhat a complex and diverse society. This is an enjoyable production from the cast themselves and the creative team. North Country is running until 5th November 2016.