Mandala’s autumn tour of Castaways debuts with a special showing at Asthall Manor, near Witney, Oxford. Castaways – a contemporary play about friendship, loyalty and tribal tensions in an inner city – and Asthall, ancestral home to the famous Mitford family, might seem a strange strange pairing on the face of it. Yet the Mitford sisters had their own family tensions, with one sister a committed communist and another two holding extreme right-wing views.
Castaways director Yasmin Sidhwa believes in spite of their upper class heritage, the Mitfords might recognise the tensions being played out in the ballroom cum theatre of their family home on Friday, 7th September.
“Opposing views are rife in the UK today and people are becoming ever more polarised, just like the 1930s when the government made a case for huge public spending cuts causing widespread strikes”, she commented. “The Mitford sisters held extreme opposing views and were radicalised. Castaways looks into how young people in the UK today can be exposed to extremist views, so the setting at Asthall Manor is very interesting for us.”
Castaways is about three close friends from different backgrounds who have grown up together until events blow their world apart. Fault lines such as lack of belonging in their community and being unparented by either mother or father are then exposed in this fast-paced, emotional, tragic drama written by award-winning writer Atiha Sen Gupta.
It does not shy away from showing what can lead vulnerable people into extremism. “We expect the audience, many of them young people not used to going to the theatre, to feel moved by Castaways and feel motivated to explore the issues the play covers”, added Yasmin.
Mandala Theatre Company from Oxford is among the first to use the new theatre space at Asthall Manor, as it starts a nine-date national tour of Castaways. This striking play will visit Wirksworth, Derbyshire (11th Sept); Didcot, Oxon (20th Sept); Doncaster (26th Sept); Bristol (11th Oct); Depford, south London (16th Oct); St Albans, Herts (18th Oct); Essex University, Colchester (25th October); Canterbury, Kent (1st November).