Review: ★★★★ Santi & Naz, Vault Festival

Review: ★★★★ Santi & Naz, Vault Festival

It’s VAULT Festival 2020! Kicking off its innovative eight week programme is Santi & Naz, a coming of age story set against the backdrop of a small village in pre-partition India.

It’s said that ordinary people are the true gatekeepers of history. Writers Guleraana Mir and Afshan D’souza-Lodhi lend a voice to the voiceless, marrying big, historical ideas with small, personal stories; resulting in characters that resonate in a way that’s rarely found in the archives of history.

Director Madelaine Moore is no stranger to the Vaults and utilises the unique underground space well. As do Sarah Sayeed’s ominous sound designs, which echo around The Cage, perfectly capturing the sense of foreboding surrounding the rising tensions from the end of British rule. The minimalistic choices taken by the rest of the creative team (Rajiv Pattani’s subtle lighting changes and Sascha Gilmour’s simple set design) keep the focus on the story of Santi & Naz; real young women with real souls trying to get through life as best they can.

Although their interfaith friendship (Santi is Sikh, Naz is Muslim) is enough to garner controversy even before they learn that they’re living right on the newly created border between Pakistan and India, it also represents the world at its best—a place where people are free to evolve and merge their cultures and traditions to enrich their lives, not limit them. Ashna Rabheru as Naz is characterful and impish, and Rose-Marie Christian lends a wise beyond her years quality to the bookish Santi. A perfect pairing for lifelong friends.

A tale of perseverance and friendship, The Thelmas have created a piece that manages to find hope without sugar coating the past. Heart-warming, powerful and impactful, Santi & Naz sets the bar high for the Vaults 8th year!

Santi & Naz runs at Vault Festival from 28th January to 2nd February 2020. NOTCH, also by The Thelmas is at Vault Festival from 19th to 23rd February 2020.


Chloe Hoey

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