It’s a different experience, being welcomed onstage to meet performers Asha and Ravi Jain, the mother and son team behind A Brimful of Asha (currently at the Belfry Theatre’s SPARK Festival). The audience is treated to samosas (very tasty) and invited to take a seat. We’re now members of an extended family, here to help solve a dispute, or, at the very least, hear about it.
East/West, old world/new world/, parent/child, young/old – at some elemental level we’ve all been part of at least one of these universal dichotomies.
The dilemma? Ravi has finished school and is embarking on his professional career in the performing arts. His parents feel, at 27, that he should now settle down, start a family, and get serious. What does any Indian family of good standing do at this point – whether they live in Canada or in India? With his permission, Ravi’s parents set up some meetings to see if an arranged marriage is possible. The ensuing culture, age and values clash provides rich material for a comedy-laden back-and-forth between son (a professional) actor and mother (who displays admirable timing for an amateur).
With a warmth not always evident in family conflict, they open up their hearts and dreams to viewers. The results provoke immediate laughter and positive feelings – it’s really not possible to choose sides as they lay out their very plausible arguments and examples.
A Brimful of Asha is a journey from Canada to India and back, with a cast of family, extended family and bride-prospects. Ravi Jain has a gift of caricature and brings his various aunties, uncles, father and friends to life. Projections provide some variety and context (I had no idea how far it was from Bombay to Delhi). In the process, we learn more about Asha’s own hopes and dreams, and her very happy arranged marriage. The success of the story lies in its universality – the audience can relate, particularly in the mother-son storyline. Everyone loves gently poking fun at the foibles of others who might prove to be very similar to ourselves.
Dramatic and richly coloured draperies surround the stage and give it an exotic feel. Costumes (sari and tunic) in jewel tones enliven the basic set of dining room table and chairs, set on a raised dias. Interludes are marked by Indian music.
In the end, and despite a huge blow-out, effectively highlighted with contrasting lighting, there is no real resolution – the loving bickering continues. But wait – there is a surprise (which I will not spoil for you).
A ticket to A Brimful of Asha provides a wonderful change of scenery and window into another world, without the price associated with a plane ticket. All this, and laughs galore await. Hurry though since the show is only here until March 17th.
A BRIMFUL OF ASHA, by Asha and Ravi Jain
Directed by Ravi Jain, Why Not Theatre, Toronto
March 12-17th. Wed – Sat shows at 8pm. Sun matinée at 2pm.
Ticket: $20. Discounts for: seniors (10%), post secondary students (25%) and high school students (50%)
Online or by phone 250 385 6815
Audience Advisories: this show is 90 minutes long with no intermission. Some strong language. Patrons will be offered vegetarian samosas as they enter the theatre; please note that they contain wheat and dairy, and may contain traces of nuts.
Disclaimer: I was offered complimentary tickets to attend A Brimful of Asha. I was not paid to write a review nor was I required to do so. As always, I retain editorial control over all the content published on this blog.