Find Me Amongst the Black, written by Parv Bancil and directed and choreographed by Darshan Singh Bhuller, is a piece of dance-theatre with a new spin on the classic tale of star-crossed lovers. Simmi, a young British Punjabi, is in love with Michael, who is black; this outrages her brother Bally, though he is dating a white girl. It treads on the faultlines between black and Asian culture, between the sexes: the opening scene sets a solo Asian woman swaying to the hippy mysticism of the Beatles while wearing a decidedly un-hippy trouser-suit, before cutting to Southall station, with signs in English and Punjabi, and an urban soundtrack of bass and bhangra.
That is fine as a set-up, but the characters themselves are like ciphers. Simmi is a “typical Asian girl”, a graduate who expected to marry the right Asian guy. Michael is a working-class man who got himself an education whereas Bally is a youth with baggy clothes and a fondness for spliffs. The story unfolds, but remains strangely disembodied, partly due to the spoken voiceovers, which laboriously spell out the plot.
This is also down to some stylistic discrepancies: Simmi and Michael’s deepening relationship is portrayed as a cheesy picture-postcard parody, and when Simmi is beaten up, the music sounds like the theme to a 60s spy caper.
There is rich material in this story, worth telling – identity, desire, race, double standards – but Find Me Amongst the Black rarely gets under the skin.