Inventive one-man show proves hot stuff

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Strictly Come Dancing is a ratings winners on the BBC, so when are they going to hot things up a bit with Strictly Balti?

That was one of the questions posed after watching this inventive and entertaining one-man show at Leicester’s Curve as part of the city’s Diwali celebrations, the biggest outside India, writes Tony Spittles.

Away from the noise and light of the festival, Strictly Balti was an intimate and bitter-sweet journey about growing up as the audience joined writer/ actor Saikat Ahamed as he danced through his dual identity childhood - anchored in Birmingham yet influenced by his parents, both doctors and first-generation immigrants from Bangladesh.

The clash of cultures from his parents’ homeland and the realities of living in “Brum” were poignantly portrayed, whether it was the rough and tumble of the playground or, at his parents’ idea, the hoped-for elegance on the dance floor with his enigmatic partner, Donna Smith.

This low-key production - the only props being a number of boxes which provided the backdrop to home and school life in the UK as well a family trip back to Bangladesh - didn’t stint on a treasure trove of memories as British Asian Saikat articulated in voice and verve the joys, and sometimes disappointments, of being a second-generation immigrant in the UK, but feeling like an Englishman abroad.

The ever-busy Saikat, who is just at home writing as performing - his credits include Zaid in the 1999 film East Is East, TV’s supermarket comedy Trollied and a range of radio productions - continues his UK tour until late December, including a three-day stopover at Birmingham Repertory Theatre from November 26-28.

Further details of playdates for Strictly Balti can be found on the Bristol-based company’s website, www.travellinglighttheatre.org.uk

Back in Leicester, the Curve is putting the finishing touches to two productions that are sure to be just as tempting as traditional panto fare.

The Studio will be hosting Roald Dahl’s The Witches, after its Hong Kong opening and ahead of a UK tour, from December 9 to January 10, while the main theatre is going back in time to Dickensian London with Lionel Bart’s multi award-winning musical Oliver!, starring Peter Polycarpou as Fagin.

This song-packed classic runs from November 27 to January 16, and further details of dates and ticket prices can be obtained from the Curve box office on 0116 2423595 or via the website at www.curveonline.co.uk