This site-specific production is a kitchen sink drama – literally.
In fact a small audience is seated in the kitchen of a semi in Selly Oak where the story is played out just feet away from us.
As characters pass back and forth into the kitchen (and at one point the garden) the tale unfolds across a number of months.
Written by Sonia Likhari, there is Dal (Shaleen Hudda) whose marriage to Jag (Simon Nagra) is on the rocks and who finds solace in over-eating. Her sister Simi (Hema Mangoo) has her own agonies as, unable to have her own children, she watches Dal grow round with twins.
Their Mum (Sandeep Garcha) is quick to criticise and organise but is so wrapped up in her own concerns she is unable to see their pain. While her sister Masi Ji (Ansuya Nathan) is the voice of reason but has her own secrets.
At 80 minutes and a collaboration between Kali Theatre Company, Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Black Country Touring, Behna may be short but it is tightly concentrated. Pain, despair, love, hope, pride, disappointment – every emotion is thrown into this cooking pot as the true natures of the characters’ relationships arise.
One moment we see pairs of sisters dancing together and laughing and the next they are flinging the worst insults possible at each other, in the way that only family can.
The closeness of the action and the fact that the setting is so normal makes this tight-knit drama incredibly real. Within minutes these characters have stopped being actors and have really become the people they purport to be.
The illusion is fostered when you first step into the house in Weoley Park Road and are ushered into the lounge to be introduced to Mum and Jag and offered a bite to eat and a drink. And once the drama is concluded the family are all there in the hall thanking you for coming and waving you off. Site-specific drama can be a hit or miss experience and this production, directed by Janet Steel and stage managed by Jessica Thanki is a real hit.
At times comic, at others terribly tragic, it takes us into the heart of a family in a way which no usual theatre production could do.
Until March 18,
for tickets tel: 0121 236 4456/birmingham-rep.co.uk