Innovative circus duo So and So Circus arrive at Jackson’s Lane theatre in Highgate this week with a tale of migration, complicated romances and backgammon inspired by a true story.
Against a background of culture wars at home and revolution abroad, Roshan arrives in a bleak 1970s London with nothing but a suitcase. His tale is explored with breathtaking acrobalance and a soundtrack of Iranian music performed live by singer Roshi.
Backgammon For Beginners is inspired by the life of creator-performer Kaveh Rahnama's Iranian father. "Kaveh was interested in his dad's love of telling anecdotes," explains co-creator Lauren Hendry "and we wanted to create a show which bound together many of those stories — particularly those relating to him coming from Iran to England in 1976". The show examines issues of migration and culture shock, in particular the disappearance of the Iran Roshan knows following the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
Roshan is depicted as a flawed but charming man, whose naïve ease with strangers gets him into more than one sticky situation. Some of Rahnama senior's real-life exploits were a surprise to the show's creators. "During our interviews with his father," reveals Lauren, "Kaveh discovered a little more than expected: that he has half-siblings who he didn't previously know about". Backgammon for Beginners looks at Roshan’s relationships with the women in his life and takes a personal view of the migrant experience.
Devised with director Mish Weaver of Stumble danceCircus the new show is quite a departure from the duo’s previous work, which includes narrative touring show The Hot Dots. "For those who see us for the first time, it will be an emotional roller-coaster," says Lauren, "and we hope that Backgammon for Beginners will appeal to a much wider audience than simply the new-circus-goer".
Backgammon For Beginners runs at Jackson's Lane from 18 to 21 April at 8pm. Tickets £14.95 (£12.95 concs). For more information and booking, please see the Jackson’s Lane website or call the Box Office on 020 8341 4421. Showing as part of Roundhouse CircusFest 2012.