Review: Citizen Khan @ Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

By April 28, 2016

Comedy. Bradford.

Citizen Khan at Leeds Grand TheatreWhen Citizen Khan first aired in 2012, it was to a lukewarm critical reception. The BBC sitcom about a British Muslim family must have done something right, however, as it regularly draws in 3 million viewers, and a fifth season is due to begin filming soon. All this has led to a Citizen Khan tour, as Adil Ray takes Mr Khan around the country to wax lyrical about British Pakistani life.

Arriving on stage to rapturous applause, Ray immediately set the tone for the rest of the evening by apprehending an Asian gentleman who arrived late to the show, improvising the ‘Asians are always late’ trope. The first half of the show is considerably more energetic and provides a variety of things for Ray to do. The second half passes much more quickly, the highlight of which has to be a marriage proposal on stage. Whilst obviously pre-planned, the audience, and Ray, gamely go along with the charade.

Ray keeps up his character very well for the roughly one-and-a-half-hour production, although perhaps there are some first-night nerves evident when he fails to deliver on a couple of jokes. For the most part, though, he sticks to his character’s traits. There are the obligatory Pakistani/Indian rivalry jokes which dominate the evening – although the sheer amount of these means they begin to wear a little thin towards the end of the show.

Not to fear, as other demographics get their share of jibes too, the Irish amongst them. Ray’s improvisations also work a charm; often it’s the unplanned moments that are the funniest, such as pulling a lady up on stage when she has an amusing reaction to an image of Khan in underwear. A segment in which Khan Skypes his daughter Alia (Bhavna Limbachia) comes off remarkably smoothly and provides the chance for the audience to finally feel one-up on Khan as, unknown to him, Alia pricks his pomposity.

Reviewed by Saleena Rani at Alhambra Theatre, Bradford on 25th May 2016. Tours to City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds on Thursday 28th May  and nationally.