Curve Leicester plays host to the UK premiere of Akademi’s powerful production The Troth this week.
The story was born out of a desire to simultaneously celebrate the centenary of the Great War, and to pay homage to the 60,000 Indian soldiers killed, whilst acknowledging 70 years since India’s independence from the British Empire.
A story that spans continents and decades, it’s not ‘just’ a show about war. It’s the story of a promise and a sacrifice. A promise beginning with the question, “Are you betrothed?” and ending with a fatal sacrifice and the assurance “I kept my troth.”
Inspired by the Hindi short story of Usne Kaha Tha, this is a moving, poignant dance piece following the life of Lehna Singh from the simple act of meeting a girl (Leela) in a bustling market place, only to later find out she has become betrothed. Seven years later, we meet Lehna again as he joins the British Army who are recruiting Indians in Punjab. Several years later, Lehna learns that two of the men fighting alongside him are the father and son of that same girl he met in the market place. When he meets her once again, he makes a promise to them that he will protect them. No matter what it takes.
A mixture of traditional Indian dance mixed with something a bit more contemporary (very reminiscent of Coal, another brainchild of director and choreographer Gary Clarke), the choreography was largely striking and very powerful. Scenes depicting the soldier’s training are intense, sweaty and formidable.
One or two routines felt slightly awkward towards the end of the piece. The infiltration of a German soldier impersonating a British officer was choreographed and acted in a style that I felt was too humorous for the subject matter. At times it felt reminiscent of a John Cleese sketch, which did slightly take away from what should have been a very alarming scene.
The six-strong cast perform against a background of poignant projections harking back to the days of the silent film, which help to narrate the story but at times more quotes and narration could have helped.
The Troth is a striking and poignant work that blends the contemporary and the traditional seamlessly and does exactly what it sets out to do in remembering the valiant sacrifice of the 60,000 Indian soldiers during the Great War.
Reviewed by Rosie Bambury
Photo: Vipul Sangoi