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Along for the Ride: Approaching Empty cast take a taxi tour at Coventry Transport Museum

22 March 2019

​With Ishy Din’s acclaimed new play Approaching Empty telling the story of two friends running a Middlesborough cab firm at the Belgrade Theatre this week, the cast of the show have been going the extra mile with a visit to the Coventry Transport Museum’s TAXI: The Story from A to B exhibition.

Showing 20-23 April, Approaching Empty draws on Din’s own experience of working as a cab driver in North East England. Through the story of lifelong friends Raf and Mansha, it explores the pressures of trying to keep a small business afloat in today’s cut-throat capitalist world, and how a generation of working class men are attempting to carve out new identities in a post-industrial age.

When hard-nosed businessman and Thatcherite big boss Raf (Nicholas Khan) decides to sell his struggling company, long-term manager Mansha (Kammy Darweish) teams up with son-in-law Sully (Nicholas Prasad) and fellow employee Sameena (Rina Fatania) to buy it from him, but it’s only after sealing the deal that he discovers the true state of the King’s Cars finances. To make matters worse, Sameena’s dangerous gangster brother Tany (Coventry’s own Maanuv Thiara) shows up with his own ideas about the best way to do business, using Raf’s son Shazad (Karan Gill) to get his own way…

Following the success of his 2016 World War I play Wipers, the Belgrade Theatre is thrilled to be welcoming the award-winning playwright back to Coventry, the city which has been manufacturing the iconic British black cab since the 1940s. By setting his play in the immediate aftermath of Margaret Thatcher’s death, Din drives home his point about how her legacy continues to this day.

Ishy Din said: “I had the title, Approaching Empty, because when I was trying to keep the wolves from the door I did a bit of cabbing. The operator would ask us, ‘Where are you?’ and, if you were nearly finished, you would say ‘I’m approaching empty.’ I thought it was a great phrase.

“It’s part of a trilogy of plays I’m writing for Tamasha. The first was Snookered, which I wrote a few years ago about young Asian men who were born in this country. It felt like there was more to be explored within that community, so this is the second, which is about middle aged men who came to the UK when they were 12 or 13 years old.”

Running until Sun 13 May, TAXI: The Story from A to B is a celebration of one of the hardest-working vehicles on our roads, featuring a wealth of taxis from around the world and across the decades on display. Highlights include the 1897 Bersey Electric Cab – the first cab to be used on the streets of London and an early example of an electric vehicle – and BBC Coventry and Warwickshire’s own specially commissioned 2-Tone Taxi.

Approaching Empty shows at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry until Sat 23 March. Tickets are available to book now by calling the box office on 024 7655 3055, or visiting www.belgrade.co.uk where prices are even cheaper. TAXI: The Story from A to B is at the Coventry Transport Museum until Sun 12 May.

PRAISE FOR APPROACHING EMPTY

“An entertaining, well-crafted drama”
★★★★
British Theatre

“A terrier-like microcosm of freemarket capitalism”
★★★★
Herald Scotland

“A rare combination of light-touch theatrical energy and dramatic weight”
★★★★
The Scotsman

“Ishy Din’s writing lays the foundation for a solid set of performances”
★★★★
The Stage

“A thoroughly absorbing drama, powerfully presented”
Bum on a Seat

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