empty cast

Approaching Empty

B2 Belgrade Theatre Coventry


The first things to say about Ishy Din’s Approaching Empty is that it is totally gripping, totally compelling and totally believable.

It is gripping because so much happens for the characters that is completely unexpected, it is compelling because the political underpinnings, the vestiges of Margaret Thatcher’s de-industrial strategy, are all around us today in Everytown and believable because the actors make it so. I thought it was wonderful.

We are in a small, threatened, taxicab office in downtown Middlesbrough on the day of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, where Raf (Nicholas Khan), not a well man, is on the brink of selling up.

A profitable rival has made a handsome offer. Raf tells his life-long friend and office manager Mansha (Kammy Darweish) who is almost in a position to buy. He needs the cash of son-in-law Sully (Nicholas Prasad) compensated for his father’s recent death associated with chemical poisoning presumably from the ICI plant.

Sameena (Rina Fantania) keen, new taxi driver is recently out of prison on drugs offences. Her parents’ death has freed up collateral in their house. Mansha might be uneasy about her as a woman and a woman driver but finally accepts her into the partnership to take over the firm.

The big question is whether owner Raf has been honest about the state of the business. The answer is, unfortunately for them, a great big no. The consequent survival plan pleases no one except Tany (Maanuv Thiara), their unexpected guest.

How do they find out? Raf’s son Shazad (Karan Gill), reluctant university business student lets the cat out of the bag. Each in their turn discovers the value of money and their own particular philosophy and how helpful it is in the shark-infested business world.

There are so many important threads running throughout that it a veritable granny’s knitting of a drama; attitudes to women, ex-offenders, drugs, decline in the post-industrial north, inadequate oversight of accountancy practices, criminal activity associated with legitimate business, family loyalty and the fragility of the bonds of friendship.

This is a passionate piece with characters literally on the edge, fighting for their survival. Mansha, as the main character, proves his unusual financial philosophy by his final statement. He has a well-earned holiday. Yes – this is a must-see. Directed by Poosha Ghal  it runs to 23-03-19

Jane Howard


Index page Belgrade Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre