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Frankie Goes to Bollywood | Home Theatre

Frankie never planned to be famous, but when the glistening lights of Bollywood came calling it was hard to say no. Written and directed by Pravesh Kumar, Frankie Goes to Bollywood is a breathtaking exploration of fame, family and figuring out what truly matters.

The story follows Frankie (Laila Zaidi) as she is whisked away from her hometown in Milton Keynes to join the ranks of Bollywood’s biggest and brightest, in an attempt to live the dream her mother never could. She quickly realises life isn’t quite as glamorous as it seems on the big screen and struggles to navigate through the expectations and constraints on a woman in the industry. The production successfully challenges the power dynamics we so often take for granted and opens the audience’s eyes to the change that is desperately needed.

Whilst the story of the price of fame has been told too many times to count, the exciting choreography paired with truly stunning costumes (both designed by Andy Kumar) make Frankie Goes to Bollywood stand out from the rest. Zaidi leads the cast exceptionally well, with her magnificent vocals and infectious energy. The audience watch as she transforms from the girl-next-door to a movie star right in front of their eyes, and Zaidi perfectly portrays the highs, lows and everything that comes in between on the road to fame.

Whilst her character Goldy spends the show failing to get noticed, you can’t help but pay

attention to Katie Stasi every time she walks onto the stage. Starting out as the hilarious and relatable best friend you wish you had, then gradually losing her optimism and excitable personality as she longs for her friend to come home, Stasi’s performance and vocals keep the audience hooked to Goldy’s lovable character. The chemistry between Zaidi and Stasi never wavers throughout, highlighting the power of strong female friendships and the talent of the two actresses.

Helen K. Wint plays both Frankie’s mother and Bollywood royalty Malika, two captivating characters. Wint embodies well through her ability to command the audience’s attention and amaze with her graceful, bold dancing. A true stand-out performance comes from Gigi Zahir as Shona, a true jack of all trades ranging from choreographer to restaurant owner to talk show host. They keep the audience expecting the unexpected through their charismatic nature and utter fabulousness. Of course, it wouldn’t be a tale of female empowerment without a few men for the audience to love to hate, none more so than Raju King (Shakil Hussain). The older movie star epitomises deep-rooted misogyny, eyeing up Frankie almost immediately as a new woman to sport on his arm. Navin Kundra plays charming, young director Prem, whose chance encounter with Frankie sets in motion the entire set

of events.

One of the production’s biggest strengths is its gorgeous lighting by Phillip Gladwell, alongside dazzling sets by Rebecca Brower. Whilst the set is rather minimalistic at the start, the vibrant lighting and clever props compensate for this, with huge arches and effective story-telling through colourful lights. As the performance goes on, the sets get bolder and more intricate, making Frankie Goes to Bollywood an enthralling visual spectacle celebrating the extravagant world of Bollywood. The talented musicians can also be seen at the back of the stage, adding a further layer of detail to the set.

The show-stopping musical numbers are a huge part of the show’s effectiveness, with music by Niraj Chag and lyrics by Tasha Taylor Johnson. Each character’s inner thoughts are explored through song, drawing audiences further into the story, alongside some upbeat, energetic pieces adding a fun element to the performance. The incredibly talented ensemble dazzle and manage to encapsulate the vast Bollywood industry, despite there only being eight of them, through their characterisation, movements and creative costumes.

The production strikes a good balance between comedy and hard-hitting truths. The overarching theme of female empowerment makes the show all too relevant to today’s society, brought to a climax with a captivating, emotional number in which all the female cast members share the stage and show their strength. Frankie Goes to Bollywood is a heartwarming, yet utterly spectacular message about gender inequality and staying true to yourself. The show plays at Home until 25th May, before continuing its UK tour until 18th August. Tickets and more information can be found here.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4*)

Gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography provided by Home Manchester


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