Garlands (2 stars)

This article is from 2019


Quality writing encased in a form that is not fit for purpose

With the rise in popularity for podcasts and audiobooks, it seems likely that radio drama would find a similar resurgence. Even if that hasn't happened yet, thanks to Summerhall and the BBC audiences have a new way to enjoy them; by being a live audience at the recording.

In Satinder Chohan's Garlands, bride Khush has her wedding plans halted when she is barricaded from her own ceremony by a group of protesters, insisting that there should be no inter-faith marriages in the Gurdwara. Chohan's writing highlights a divide in the Sikh community and shows the conflicts between progressive acceptance and traditional values. It is a shame then that the show only lasts half an hour, as it fails to give the topic and characters the development they deserve.

As good as the writing is, there is very little that is theatrical, or indeed entertaining, about watching a radio drama being recorded. The actors move back and forth towards the microphone and tussle a bit when the script calls for it, but there is little in the way of theatricality, or dramaturgy, to engage the audience. If anything, seeing a recording in action may even be a little less entertaining than just listening to the audio, since the scenery that the audience may imagine is undermined by the actual visuals on stage.

Summerhall, run ended.


  • 2 stars

BBC It's the happiest day of Khush's life. Arriving at the Gurdwara, the kirtan music soothes her nerves until a blood-curdling chant rises. A group of men have forcibly blocked the entrance to the prayer hall inside to stop her wedding. Their objection? The religious marriage of a Sikh to a non-Sikh. Khush confronts the…