Rivers with Diamonds

 Rivers with Diamonds

a play written by Raminder Kaur, directed by Mukul Ahmed 

Theatre review by Preet Halbert



Rivers with Diamonds entertained from start to finish. A charming story of The Beatles’ search for spiritual enlightenment during their stay in the Maharishi’s ashram in Rishikesh in the 1960s.  Up in some heavenly abode, the Maharishi makes John Lennon a promise to make contact with his wife, Yoko.  Jolly Singh, a sweet and funny man, finds an envelope with a tape and letter from John and reluctantly reads it and decides it must get to Yoko.  His daughter, Dilwaar, desperate to emigrate to the UK, offers to take it. 

The one-hour R&D play written by Raminder Kaur and directed by Mukul Ahmed was performed at the Pinter Studio in East London in July 2022. The actors made a convincing case for reimagining the story of the Beatles from Indian perspectives. Karim M Nasif dexterously jumped from the Maharishi to Jolly Singh and back again. Jordon Kemp played a rebellious yet heart-torn John Lennon while having a cheeky bash at Paul and Ringo as well. Ashwini Kinhikar played an eager Dilwaar and Jas Steven Singh a loud and boisterous Kenyan called Jauhar while sitting behind screens to depict George Harrison on his meditative sing-songs. The set was designed by Sophie Firth and brought to vivid life with film and animation projections by Jules Deering and evocative lighting by Tracey Hammill. Together with the catchy music by Roddy Matthews, the performance was a joy to behold.

Jolly Singh reminded me of so many Punjabi fathers, uncles and brothers, together with the sensitive relationship with his daughter beautifully portrayed. Jolly’s journey from India to Liverpool was both emotive and sentimental making me think about my own parents as they left India to move to the UK in the early 60s.  The story telling through the black and white photography and uplifting music cleverly took the audience back to the era.  I thoroughly enjoyed the play and cannot wait to find out whether Dilwaar gets the tape back to England. The storytelling and visuals took the audience on a wonderful journey.  Highly recommend –a wonderful way to spend a Sunday evening!

           Images by Tarun Jasani


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