Id like to first thank Sody Singh Kahlon for kindly inviting us to the press night of his brand new one-man show Soul Sikher. On a warm September evening I was behind schedule, having caught a late train. The result was that I only had seconds to go before the start of the show, but Im glad I made it on time especially as one of Sodys jokes during the performance related to the bad record, stereotypical Id hasten to add, that a certain community has on arriving late. But thats not what Sodys distinctive humour is about. He is truly a genius in fusing together an insight into the psyche of living as an ethnic in the UK, a realisation of our potential to connect with ourselves and then making it accessible to a wide audience base using performance skills coupled with modern multi-media technology.
The show starts with the wonderful title track of Indi Kaurs delightful CD: Keep on Walking (released in 2005). Indeed all of the music throughout the show features such great artists including Grammy nominated Snatam Kaur. In parallel to the music we are presented with photographic progress of the fun times of a young Sikh boy. We sit and watch him playing with his sister, parents and relatives until he morphs into the Paul, a flat-capped faithless chap who has unfortunately lost the path to any sense of enlightenment. We see Paul interacting with his spiritual wife, his prejudiced boss and dealing with the public face of material success. Although the origins of his frustrations of a Sikh identity in a western society are less explored, it does mirror a situation that many British Sikhs find themselves in.
Paul works for Ingram Norten Information Technology (INIT), as a computer sales representative. He is ambitious but his glass ceiling is obvious and tiresome. It forms the framework for Sody to play a host of new characters all exploiting his ability to make us laugh through understanding their extreme patterns of behaviour. Many of us will associate them with people we have met or even seen in character traits of our own selves.
When Paul is presented with an assignment to fix an off-shore outsourcing problem, he reluctantly heads East. However his journey East is interceded by Divine Intervention which causes a car accident resulting in Pauls eastern experiences all occurring in his head as he lies in a coma moments before he takes his last breath. Pauls eastern voyage of self-discovery is further supported by more of Sodys cheeky characters that guide Paul back to the Sikh path.
We are also treated to some essential Sikh history. I have to admit that a scene that sent the most tingles down my back was the way that Sody presented us images of how Sikhs sacrificed their lives for the liberty and freedoms of the people by fighting against ethnic cleansing. He also reminds us of a carnage episode from 1919 another chilling holocaustic moment of history for us all.
Sodys show is a great experience to realise through the medium of humour the importance of knowing ones self and the need to not be deterred away from our religious heritage but most of all to keep it in tact as it is timeless.
At the end of the show, and just like Sodys previous solo show, Sikhs in the City, he met the audience an act that reveals him to be a warm and gracious person. I spoke to him and he admitted stretching the boundaries of the multi-media tool he was using. We have a great Sikh talent here and giving him more support will Im certain result in him climbing to even greater international acclaim. I wish him all the best in this must see show of a mast Sikh! Make sure you catch it at Watermans, Brentford, Middlesex: (box office: 020 8232 1010) from 6th to 9th October 2005 or visit Sodys cool site at http://www.sody.co.uk for further tour dates.