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For The Love Of Paper - KXT On Broadway (NSW)

Written by Almitra Mavalvala. Directed by Kersherka Sivakumaran

Reviewed by Justin Clarke

KXT on Broadway, Ultimo

Until 20th April, 2024

A dedicated team brings this intimate and deeply personal story to life in KXT's theatre that will make you appreciate that paper document gathering dust in your drawer

What is paper worth to you? To some it’s useless scrap that is to be scribbled on, used for note taking or doodling. For others, it’s a means to get out of a marriage, or the opposite, to start a lifelong journey with a loved one. For many, it’s a chance to become a citizen of a country a world away from their own, where opportunities for a better life are abundant. For us thespians, it's a means on which we tell stories and bear our souls on parchment. For Almitra Mavalvala, a piece of paper is worth many of these things all at the same time. 

For the Love of Paper is Mavalvala’s symbolic sequel to her one woman show Blacklisted, originally performed at The Hayes Theatre Company with subsequent seasons at the Sydney and Adelaide Fringe Festival. In Blacklisted we learned the story of Mavalvala’s ongoing fight to find citizenship outside of Karachi; a journey that took her to the US, Canada, and eventually landing an Artist’s Visa in Australia. Blacklisted was a deeply personal portrayal of a woman yearning for a country to accept her, whilst simultaneously yearning for the connection she felt with her home. For the Love of Paper follows in Blacklisted’s footsteps in that it is deeply personal and provides citizens of this lucky country a small insight into the gift our passports are. That’s right, the same ones that are currently gathering dust in your bedside drawer.

For the Love of Paper, KXT on Broadway 2024. Images by LSH Media

Amaliah (Mavalvala) and Kaveh (Antony Makhlouf) are basically a couple right? Despite the fact that Kaveh, a queer Afghani man, has citizenship in Australia, and Amaliah is fighting desperately to not be deported at the end of her visa, they could pass as a couple right? This is the crux of the tension that revolves around Paper, as the pair face the looming figure of immigration whilst trying not to tear their friendship apart. The pair decide to undergo the journey of a marriage of convenience, asking friends and family to lie in the face of the government as they navigate the multitude of forms and bureaucratic mazes within Australia’s immigration laws. But will Kaveh’s dependance on Amaliah eventually clash with her values of truth and love? Or will their law-breaking journey eventually lead to jail?

Paris Bell’s set design is decadent within the KXT space. A large (and might I add, handwritten - with sharpies no less) formal de-facto relationship document looms on the wall of the stage, glaring over everything within Amaliah and Kaveh’s apartment. Centre stage sits a white piano, and the kitchen is stocked with a working stove top, and topped up with plenty of Chai - not Chai Tea, just Chai. Whilst given gorgeous attention to detail, the stage may just be a bit too cramped and could do with some culling or symbolic imagination to help us transfer from space to space, particularly when certain elements of the living room aren’t used and are mainly decoration. 

Glistening over the top is Jasmin Borsovsky’s lighting design, which helps to navigate places in space that are outside the living room, or highlight moments of intimacy or emotional turmoil for Kaveh and Amaliah’s journey. There is a certain level of intimate feeling imbued throughout that truly welcomes audiences into the story itself.

...a gorgeously honest portrayal of a love, culture and friendship amidst the theatrical maze of Australia’s immigration laws.

Under Kersherka Sivakumaran’s direction, Mavalvala and Makhlouf share a brutally honest portrayal of friendship and love. You can tell that there has been a great deal of work behind the scenes to foster this believability, without which the show just couldn’t possibly work. On top of this believability, Sivakumaran has honoured cultural authenticity throughout. Fostering Mavalvala’s script through pausing for moments of cultural exploration and language, meaning that audiences are never lost in what certain words mean or the implication of religious clashes.

With the addition of Joseph Raboy as a multitude of characters at play throughout, both Mavalval and Makhlouf explore the intricacies of immigration and citizenship through a foreign lens. As a white, Australian citizen, it’s a stark realisation of how difficult visa applications and citizenship navigations are for those not born in this country, particularly when you are some, like Almitra Mavalvala, who has imbued themselves deep into the theatrical space of Australia itself. Paper’s script explores these complexities with both a desperation for belonging in a country such as Australia, and a frustration at being locked out of the opportunities promised. 

There is a certain cinematic feel to Paper that yearns for itself to be a play with songs, given the large piano centre stage which is underused and a guitar which sits offstage never touched. We’re given a small example of Mavalvala’s vocal range, which is a tantalising tease for what could have been. Come on, give us a song!

There is a gem to be found within the show...

Given that when seeing this performance on the first official night of the premiere production, there were very few bumps and scrapes for a first night audience. If the creative’s dedication to this production is anything to go by, the opening glitches, such as tentative pacing, lost words due to lack of projection, and exploring audience beats and reactions will come clean for Opening Night.

With a team dedicated to authenticity, For the Love of Paper is a production to watch in its next evolution, be in a new format or genre altogether. This is a gorgeously honest portrayal of a love, culture and friendship amidst the theatrical maze of Australia’s immigration laws. There is a gem to be found within the show that, when the clutter is stripped away, will reveal its true worth for audiences. 


FOR THE LOVE OF PAPER by Almitra Mavalvala

Director Kersherka Sivakumaran; with Almitra Mavalvala, Antony Makhlouf and Joseph Raboy

Tues - Saturday 7.30pm Sunday 5pm

$35 / $45

Previews $35

Thursday Under 30 tickets: KXT20FOR20S *apply to adult tix only


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