Rishta is a warm comedy of tradition versus independence (3 stars)


A marriage of inconvenience in Taqi Nazeer's impressive debut for PPP

For many progressive young Scots Asians, an arranged marriage in 2018 is almost enough to make you choke on the free vegetable pakora served in place of Oran Mor's traditional lunchtime pie. So it is with Taqi Nazeer's debut for A Play A Pie and A Pint, commissioned as part of the National Theatre Of Scotland's Breakthrough Writers programme.

The big question here seems to be whether seemingly mismatched couple – outspoken call centre manager Zahra (Mandy Bhari) and impulsive business analyst Niyal (Nazeer) – can work through their mutual cynicism at the set-up and find true love together, tied by their respective families. Even if, in Zahara's case, her 'eggs are almost hardboiled' and she's seemingly more at ease with gay bestie Bally (Paul Chaal). Or alternatively, if mince curry with tomato ketchup is all they will ever share.

Maryam Hamidi's smart and pacy direction keeps the audience guessing throughout. This warm comedy of tradition versus independence has all the intimacy of a social media overshare, where secrets threaten to tumble out faster than Tinder swipes.

Bhari is at times a less assured performer than Nazeer and the irresistibly cheeky Chaal, but Nazeer's glorious, zesty writing makes up for it. His digs at Asian stereotypes and Pollokshields alike, as well as a massive twist in the middle, are as unexpected as they are amusing. It should resonate with anyone who longs to escape family pressures, where settling down means just settling for less. A charming and insightful comedy with just the right sprinkling of pathos.

Oran Mor, Byres Rd, Glasgow until Mar 10.

A Play, a Pie and a Pint: Rishta

A comedy about love, family and the people we choose (or don’t choose) to marry.

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