Night at the Bombay Roxy is a rich, immersive Indian noir, created by Swamp Studios, an innovative theatre company, led by Ollie Jones and Clem Garritty. Directed by Eduard Lewis, this new, site specific production will play out in the beautiful surroundings of the as-yet-unopened Dishoom restaurant in the iconic Barkers Building in Kensington, London, from 27th November until 11th December 2017.
A talented ensemble of actors and musicians will transport the audience to the opening night of the Bombay Roxy, a café and jazz club housed within a former Art Deco cinema set in Bombay, 1949. The performance will be matched with a lavish dining experience. Audience members will be greeted with welcome cocktails, and then will feast on a menu of classic Bombay dishes as the performance unfolds.
Night at the Bombay Roxy will immerse the audience in the intriguing world of 1940s Bombay, where an unexpected and exciting jazz scene was flourishing alongside a uniquely Bombay version of the Art Deco style (the city remains the biggest and best example of Art Deco architecture in the world, after Miami). Whilst Bombay’s architects and designers studied Western Art Deco, they redefined it by creating a distinctive Indian style.
Jazz was first introduced to Bombay in the 1930s by touring American artists who opened the city’s ears to new sounds. Local musicians were quick to catch on, and by the 1940s ‘hot jazz’ was everywhere. This was Bombay’s glamorous jazz age, as told in Bombay-based author Naresh Fernandes’ critically acclaimed book, Taj Mahal Foxtrot – the inspiration for this play.
It is a close and heavy monsoon night on Marine Lines. Despite the weather, there is a jostling of people outside the Bombay Roxy. The club didn’t always have this pull or indeed its current reputation. The man behind the reinvention is the charismatic Cyrus Irani, whose name was once synonymous with Bombay’s racketeers, with murky allegiances, and with police escorts to Arthur Road Jail. But now Cyrus fully intends to put the Bombay underworld behind him. And his new venture, the Bombay Roxy, might just be his redemption.
Shamil Thakrar, Dishoom Co-Founder and Creative Producer of Night at the Bombay Roxy, says: “I’m delighted that we are supporting these hugely talented young artists to bring to life an immersive theatrical adventure that is inspired by two of my personal cultural obsessions – jazz and Bombay. The jazz scene in Bombay in the 1940s is one of those undiscovered treasure-chests of treats, and I can’t wait to see and hear and feel it brought to life in this new show. The fact that it will all be happening in our new Dishoom in the beautiful Barkers of Kensington makes it even more exciting.”
About Swamp Studios
Ollie Jones and Clem Garritty, Swamp Studio’s founders, have been working together for 10 years, creating performances for theatre, events and brand experiences. Their theatrical background includes working with Kill the Beast, Punchdrunk, Opera Up Close, The Finborough Theatre, National Theatre Studio, The Vaults, The Soho Theatre, The New Diorama, The Lowry and The Point Eastleigh.
Ollie Jones is an award-winning freelance theatrical creative, working as a writer, actor and producer across various companies. He is a founding member of Swamp Studios and of Kill the Beast, a multi-award winning comedy theatre company who have been touring nationally since 2012. Ollie is also a graduate of the Royal Court Young Writer’s Programme. His debut play Daisy Cutter sold out at the Warwick Arts Centre. He has been shortlisted for the International Student Playscript Competition, The King’s Cross Award and the BBC Writer’s Room. He is a freelance Creative Associate at Punchdrunk and has been involved in the development of several projects, one of which is opening in the very near future.
Clem Garritty studied theatre at The University of Warwick and production design at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Alongside Ollie Jones, Clem formed Kill the Beast and has designed and directed all three of their critically-acclaimed, award-winning shows. Clem has since worked behind the scenes in the art department on numerous TV shows, with the BBC, ITV and Talkback Thames. Clem has had scripts shortlisted for the BAFTA Pitch-Up, and in 2015 he co-wrote and directed John Henry Falle’s The Story Beast, which was nominated for the Fosters Comedy Award at The Edinburgh Fringe before transferring to The Soho Theatre in spring 2016. Clem is a Creative Associate with Punchdrunk and has most recently been creating their latest show which will open in London in autumn 2017.
Eduard Lewis trained at Birkbeck University. He has recently worked as Assistant Director to Max Webster on Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax (Old Vic), which was nominated for an Olivier Award and directed a new adaption of Antigone by Pamela Carter for the BRIT Programme (University of South Florida). Past alumni of the course include Sam Mendes, Edward Hall, Tamara Harvey and Frantic Assembly. Other directing credits include, Light and Shadow, Crap Dad Island and Sky Lines Project at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester (where he was Resident Trainee Director) and A Tale of Two Cities (Darlington Civic Theatre), Maggie and Pierre (European Premiere Finborough Theatre), The Terrible Tale of Twiddly Widdlies (Pleasance Edinburgh and New Diorama Theatre), Caught (Pleasance London) and Pick One (Arcola Theatre).
Ed Borgnis is a Sound Designer as well as Technical and Production Manager, working in the UK and worldwide. Ed has worked for the Sound departments of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Ballet, Regents Park Open Air, The Globe, Tricycle and various concert venues. Recent projects include Impossible world tour for Jamie Hendry Productions, and Cathy for Cardboard Citizens. Ed also works in video design and provides broadcast engineering support for the BBC.
Dishoom pays loving homage to the Irani cafés that were once part of the fabric of life in Bombay. Opened early last century by Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran, there were almost 400 of these cafés at their peak in the 1960s. Today, fewer than 30 remain. These cafés broke down barriers by bringing people together over food and drink. They were the first places in Bombay where people of any culture, class or religion could take cool refuge from the street with a cup of chai, a simple snack or a hearty meal. People from all walks of life shared tables, rubbed shoulders and broke bread together.
Like the old Irani cafés, Dishoom breaks down barriers: in its restaurants, at its events, and through charity (donating a meal for every meal – 2.5 million meals so far).
Dishoom serves a lovingly curated menu of Bombay comfort food and award-winning drinks in beautiful restaurants with unique stories. Everything Dishoom does shares its love for Bombay’s culture, heritage and people, and everyone is welcomed with warmth.
Dishoom is led by co-founders Shamil and Kavi Thakrar. Naved Nasir is the Executive Chef-walla. The first Dishoom opened in Covent Garden in 2010, and Dishoom now has four cafés in London and one in Edinburgh. Dishoom Kensington will open in December 2017.